Phoebe Prince Suicide
The Bullycide of Phoebe Prince
Was Phoebe Prince Bullied to Death?
COMING UP ON DATELINE: Sunday, April 1 at 7p/6c - When a young girl kills herself, her friends and neighbors are understandably saddened and stunned. But when details of her final hours come to light, a prosecutor decides to file criminal charges against some of the girl's classmates. Was Phoebe Prince bullied to death? An exclusive interview with one of the accused bullies. Kate Snow reports.
By Latricia Wilson
Who was Phoebe Prince?
Throughout the United States and even in various countries all over the world youth have committed suicide to escape the relentless teasing and horrific threats of violence to actual acts of violent attacks committed by their peers.
One teenager who most recently decided to end her own life because of such disturbing behavior a few teens acted out to directly cause harm to her, was Phoebe Nora Mary Prince.
Before I describe the events that transpired according to court documents, prior to Phoebe Prince' suicide, I must inform you of who she was.
Phoebe Prince was born in Bedford, England in 1994. She was originally from Fanore in County Clare Ireland and immigrated to the United States in the fall of 2009 with her mother and four siblings. Phoebe had long beautiful silky dark brown hair and was very attractive. Just like many other teenagers, Phoebe Prince socialized with her peers on the popular Facebook social networking site.
In court documents a witness told investigators in a written statement that Phoebe "was not an aggressive person". The witness also stated that , "She definitely didn't want to fight with the other girls in school". Furthermore, Phoebe Prince had a family and peers who loved and cared about her.
When and Why Pheobe Prince Was Bullied
Phoebe Prince was driven to bullycide by relentless abuse
According to court documents, in an interview with Phoebe Prince' mother, investigators learned that Phoebe was "getting bullied" after enrolling at South Hadley High School in 2009.
Soon after Phoebe enrolled at South Hadley High school she was emotionally abused by four girls and two boys. She was being bullied over disputes about her brief relationships with a high school football player and another male student. Furthermore, in the Common Wealth vs. Flannery Mullins Court document a witness reported that she believed the defendant Flannery Mullins was "jealous".
In all the court documents witnesses reported that Phoebe Prince was afraid of Ms. Mullins as well as the other teens who joined Ms. Mullins in harassing Phoebe Prince. The teens who have been described as "bullies" may have been motivated to harass Phoebe because they perceived her to be weak and vulnerable.
Even though they may have perceived her to be more passive than aggressive, the decision these teens made to terrorize her based upon these perceptions was unjustifiable. Because a few teens decided to run a campaign that isolated, excluded and humiliated Phoebe Prince she committed suicide to stop the constant abuse she experienced.
How Phoebe Prince was Bullied and Tactics Used
In the Common Wealth vs. Flannery Mullins court document witnesses reported that Flannery Mullins repeatedly threatened to beat Phoebe Prince up; and followed her in the bathroom on more than one occasion at South Hadley High School.
In addition to the reports of threats an stalking a witness told police investigators that Flannery Mullins would refer to Phoebe as a "Irish Slut". The Mullins court document also says that Ms. Mullins used Facebook to further harass her. In addition to reports of attempts made by Ms. Mullins to publicly humiliate Phoebe, a witness reported that Ashley Longe yelled defamatory remarks at her in the school library on Jan 14, 2010.
According to the Longe document a witness reported that Ashley Longe threw an empty energy drink can at Phoebe while she was walking home. Phoebe Prince suffered greatly as she was being bullied. On January 14, 2010 after Phoebe left school she decided that she would not return to South Hadley High School.
Phoebe Prince decided that she would not return to the harassment, threats, and humiliation she was exposed to so intensely. On January 14 she decided that she would no longer be afraid, no longer cry, and no longer be victimized.
Phoebe had reported the harassment to school administration but according to a witness, Phoebe told her that, "No action will be taken." Another witness reported that she had seen Phoebe Prince crying at school.
Although, Phoebe Prince' cries and pleas for help were not enough to stop the harassment she endured; her death brought calls for more specific anti-bullying laws in Massachusetts. As a result of her death in March 2010, a state anti-bullying task force was set up.
Phoebe Prince' suicide contributed to the beginning of an anti-bullying movement statewide and nationally. Even though policy makers have begun to explore methods to stop bullies from controlling another person's life at school, bullycides will continue to occur unless a more rigorous campaign is launched to detour youth from even having a desire to bully.
Just like the televised commercials frequently aired on topics such as drug abuse, safe-sex practices, and drinking while driving, there must also be commercials aired depicting the effects and consequences of bullying. Televised commercials about bullying would consciously discourage youth from from participating in such socially destructive behavior. Anti-bullying television commercials would contribute to youth becoming more consciously aware of the extent to which victims are emotionally and mentally damaged.
As more youth become educated about the detrimental effects of bullying, they will be less likely to actively participate in this type of harassment. Many youth will become ashamed to be bullies, or to socialize with individuals that display bully-like behavior.
Another tactic that could be used to minimize bullying in schools and neighborhoods are the development of confidential hotlines. Local school boards or police departments can use these hotlines to give bully victims access to counselors and psychologists that can help victims cope with the harassment. Confidential hotlines will allow youth to have access to someone that could provide them with other alternatives to dealing with bullies rather than comitting suicide as Phoebe Prince felt she had to do.
In addition to this function of the hotline, the hotline can be used for victims and witnesses to make official reports of bullying. The reports can be investigated by local law enforcement and school board administration in efforts to stop bullying from continuing. If a national campaign had been launched with these initiatives in place Phoebe Prince may have not have resorted to ending her own life.
Phoebe Prince had something special to offer this world. We are all left to wonder just what that special thing was. If more citizens decide to collectively participate in an aggressive campaign to reduce bullies from surfacing in our schools and neighborhoods then more bullycide incidents can be significantly reduced.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in The Declaration of Independence:
That they (human beings) are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness.
Phoebe Prince had a right to live; a right to socially interact with others freely; and a right to engage in activities satisfying to her without others restraining her from doing so verbally, physically or mentally.
The "unalienable rights "that Thomas Jefferson spoke of must be restored and embedded in the hearts and minds of youth across this country and throughout the world. Without these rights our society will lack order, respect, and total chaos will be the end result in our next generation to come.
Latricia Wilson is an OvercomeBullying.org
feature writer. If you are an expert in a field related
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