Over a year ago, I wrote a post entitled Are We an After-the-Fact Society? This was when the Phoebe Prince tragedy happened – she was continuously bullied by a group of teens until she took her own life. While no one came to Phoebe’s defense during this harassment, the outrage was expressed intensely, after-the-fact.
This week, a settlement in the case was made. To the credit of District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, she filed charges against the teens involved, and now there is an individual consequence for their behavior. The settlement was made with the consent of Phoebe’s mother. However, some believe it was too lenient; some believe each of the teens involved should have spent at least 30 days in jail.
So, here we stand, one year later. It does seem that a greater awareness of bullying has materialized. We can only hope that other incidents have been prevented, and some have learned a lesson from what unfolded in Northhampton. Perhaps, we have inched away from being an after-the-fact society to one which stands up for people who are being treated unfairly and inappropriately.
In reading some of the recent news clips this week, interesting points and questions have been posed. The two more interesting ones are:
- “If you see something, say something.” – The Takeaway from the Phoebe Prince Case? Speak Up – Babble for a new generation of parents
- “What can be done to prevent this from happening again?” – Phoebe Prince Suicide: What Can Be Done about Bullying? – blogPOST (Washington Post Blogs)
These are two key conversation points to have with your neighbors, your kids, your church groups, your book clubs, your community… The conversation about stopping bullying needs to continue in order to ensure prevention as well as civil and respectful relationships.
Phoebe Prince’s mother spoke out in court this week, too. You can read an article entitled Anguished Mother Rips Daughter’s Tormenter, and consider a few more points:
- What they did to Phoebe: “…humiliate her and destroy her spirit.”
- What no parent should have to say or feel: “Aѕ I ѕаіd mу final goodbye tο Phoebe аt thе crematorium, I lifted hеr frοm hеr coffin аnd held hеr fοr thе very last time. Mу small girl, once ѕο full οf life, wаѕ now ѕο сοld.”
Why did it happen? In one of teen’s apologies, here is what was said:
“It was my hurt, anger and jealousy that caused my attitude to change after Christmas vacation. That’s when I had my chance to act like the person I was raised to be. I failed. I was the weak one and that failure will always be with me.”
Our community failed Phoebe Prince. Jealousy replaced common sense as well as a core sense of what was right. Destroying a spirit replaced encouraging each other. Looking the other way replaced getting involved. Silence replaced speaking up.
How to stop bullying? It stops when our communities are strong enough to safeguard and nurture those who live in it. It stops when we have a strong set of core beliefs to keep us in the right mindset with corresponding rightful actions. It stops when there is a greater realization that our choices have a consequence, and we take this into account more clearly and seriously.
How do we prevent bullying? How do we encourage our kids to support each other and speak up when wrong is happening?