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Reported Jan 24, 2010 in the Boston Globe by Kevin Cullen.

Her name was Phoebe Prince.  She was 15 years old.  She had come from Ireland to the United States, her excitement to be here exceeded only by her excitement at returning to Ireland to see her dad.  She was a freshman at South Hadley High, and had a short romance with a senior on the football team.

And so she became a target.

The whole concept of "Mean Girls" isn't just a movie.  Anyone who has been on the receiving end of their ire (like me back in high school) knows that the vague platitudes of standing up for yourself don't work.  They are cruel, vicious, and heartless, and exist in all walks of life and all age groups.  Some are lucky and develop coping mechanisms, like how to employ simple avoidance.  Some are luckier and learn how to fight back in a way that discourages any further attention from them.  But we are rare.  And we are considered wrong.  First, there's the whole "you shouldn't pick on girls" thing that they employ as a convenient strawman that turns the Establishment into their own personal army.  Then, we are told we should be trying to get along and bridge our differences, not reinforce them.  They can't help it if they can't act without humanity, but we can, and we are expected to tolerate the abuse (and this is where some of us are luckiest, as we learned the art of subterfuge).

The Mean Girls clique in school started following Phoebe around, calling her a slut.  When they wanted to pile it on, they called her an Irish slut.  Name-calling, stalking, and intimidation were the marching orders of the day.

On Jan 14, Phoebe was walking home when a Mean Girl went by in a car.  The Mean Girl started insulting her and threw a canned energy drink at her.  Phoebe didn't react right away.  She just went home.  Then, she went into her closet and hung herself.  Her 12 year old sister found her.

The Mean Girls went on Facebook and made fun of Phoebe's suicide.  They continued to badmouth Phoebe at school.  They even went to a dance two days after Phoebe's suicide, bragging about how they were playing dumb with the police investigating.

A Springfield, MA TV station sent a camera crew to interview students.  One student talked on camera about the predators stalking the halls of the schools.  The camera went off, the crew left, and a Mean Girl grabbed the student, slammed her against a locker, and punched her in the head.

Instead of trying to deal with the bullies, people are asking why Phoebe hung herself instead of standing up to the abuse.  They are blaming the victim.  And the Mean Girls are left alone.  There are supposedly three investigations going on at the school, but the school says these things take time.  And a meeting that was planned to address all this this past week, but it has been postponed indefinitely.

Phoebe has returned to Ireland, but in a pine box.  Her family buried her in County Clare, because "they wanted an ocean between her" and her tormentors.

When you're a parent, you have the responsibility to teach your kids and protect them.

How in the world could I ever protect my kids against something like this?


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
The school knows that this kind of thing goes on. They know who are the bullies. They do nothing about it.

When in school I took a different approach to you. I changed my entire wardrobe to black, took to keeping my nose in a Stephen King book, and when the assholes spoke to me in the hall I told them to "burn in hell" and kept walking. Soon people started talking behind my back that I was a Satanist and should be left alone for fear of my cult (I did not know this until after high school). The humorous part was that they may have been better off picking on the Satanist they thought I was. I have always had a very bad temper, so much so that it frightens me. I would bottle my rage until I was alone. I did this because I didn't really want to hurt anyone. But there are times when they brought up your rage a few times during a day and you still have half a day to go before you can be alone to scream and break things. At those times I did not want the individuals hurt, I wanted everyone dead. My upbringing and fear of my parents' reactions is what kept anything truly bad from happening. But there were kids even then that did not get the old school upbringing I did. Which is why I am not surprised today when a student loses their mind and goes on a killing spree.

Part of the reason Keltoi and I agreed not to have children is that we both suffered at the hands of the bullies, and we don't see the point of putting a child through that.

I am sorry for Phoebe. I wish she had not had to see that side of America. And whether it does any good or not, I think that the bullies of her school need to be reminded on the anniversary of Phoebe's death for the rest of their lives that their treatment of her is what killed her. I think they also need to be reminded every time a friend, family member, or pet dies that they will now be in Heaven, the same as Phoebe, and that they personally will never see the place.

Yes, I'm an angry adult too, thank Fate for the parents I have.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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