Fifteen year old Phoebe Prince’s body was found hanging in the stairway leading to her family’s second-floor apartment in South Hadley, a Massachusetts suburb from an apparent suicide. The family had recently moved to the area from Ireland and as it now turns out Phoebe was being harassed as she walked through the halls of school, and was followed on the way home from school. Now, nine teenagers have been charged with involvement in a months-long campaign of bullying. Before it claims the lives and emotional well-being of more children, bullying has to stop.
Phoebe Prince was suffering months of torture both verbally and physically, according to investigators: “Their conduct far eceeded the limits of normal teenage relationship-related quarrels” CNN states. The county charged a 17-year-old boy with rape, violation of civil rights and criminal harassment. It seems there was a bit of justice for Phoebe. Additionally, 18-year old Austin Renaud was also charged with rape, and several others, including Kayla Narey were charged with violation of civil rights with bodily injury. But though these bullies were charged, most get away with it, and often, our children have nowhere to turn for help.
Where does Bullying Happen?
Bullying doesn’t just happen in school — now, there’s the internet and places like Facebook — Phoebe got harassed there too. Bullying is widespread. A bully can turn something like going to the bus stop or recess into a nightmare and bullying can leave deep emotional scars that last for life. It has become a very serious and dangerous issue, and up until this point, hasn’t been taken as seriously as it should. Unfortunately for Phoebe, it was too late.
Is Your Kid Being Bullied?
When teasing becomes harmful, not playful, tormenting in a verbal or psychological way — that is bullying: Kids can be shoved, hit, name-called, and bullies can spread rumors about them Bullies use the internet, email, social networking sites and text messages for taunting others. It’s likely your child may hide the fact that he/she is being bullied because they don’t want to disappoint you, according to the kids health organization. But if you notice them having more anxiety than usual, not sleeping well or acting moody, talk to them. Here’s what to say:
What to do
Ask your child when watching a tv show where someone is being taunted if he/she has ever seen this in their school, or if they have ever experienced it. See how they react. Focus on comforting your kids if they feel embarrassed to tell you, and tell them they are not alone. The most important thing to do is to take bullying seriously and figure out the best approach to take. Sometimes its worse for your child if the bully find out you spoke with the parents, so it may be best to appraoch a teacher or counselor first. But sometimes it is ok to speak with the bully’s parents. Whatever you do — don’t avoid the situation, talk to your child and help them cope.