The Dark Side of the 'School Culture'

Six months ago, a mother and her daughters, from County Clare, Ireland, arrived in the United States. They settled in quiet South Hadley, Massachusetts eager to experience American culture and live near the Irish relatives who made their home in the picturesque town. (South Hadley is in the western part of the Bay State. The real estate is pricey; it's also where Mount Holyoke College is located.)

Alas and alas. Pretty Phoebe Nora Mary Prince, the 15-year-old, committed suicide, earlier this month, apparently anguished over the cyberbullying, harassment and 'dating spats' she had experienced at her new high school, South Hadley High. Several (female) students were jealous that Phoebe had become the school's new It Girl and were incessantly picking on her. (Although one took it further and committed assault and battery by throwing an object at her.)

“Criminal harassment, stalking, and threats” are prohibited under existing Massachusetts' laws, but public officials are mum as to whether any of Phoebe’s tormentors will be criminally charged. Two students, however, have been disciplined by school officials.

Equally as tragic, it was Phoebe's 12-year-old sister who found the body.

For more, go here and here and here and here and here.

Phoebe's online obituary is here. She had so much going for her! What a shocking story.

Update: Sizeable public turn-out to discuss the bullying issue at South Hadly High School. If the problem is indeed that serious, with kids getting regularly assaulted, why aren't the cops ever called? What a lame response by the superintendent.

A Massachusetts attorney sent this comment: "If nothing else, these kinds of situations leads me to conclude that we made the right decision to home school and to send our children to schools that had more accountability than can be found in the government edu-gulags.

I often wonder if kids are nastier and more conscienceless than in the past. I suspect not, its just that in our wired, 24/7 society there is no escape from the buzzing of the bees in the hive. Certainly in our fragmented, value-free zeitgeist there exists reinforcement and validation for even the most unpleasant of behaviors. In this case, it does seem as though the worst of the tormentors were indeed sociopaths."


LarryK4 said...

There are limits to the First Amendment and cyberthreats push that envelope--in this case, to the breaking point.

TCC said...

Thanks for your comment, LarryK4.

Yes, this is not a First Amendment issue. However, I find the proposals being touted in the Mass. anti-bullying bill not only ineffectual but silly.


Bullies should be expelled and/or compulsory attendance laws should be reformed.

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