Thursday, January 28, 2010

Phoebe Prince: Another Teen Hangs Herself; Cyberbullying, As Usual

"Two Massachusetts Teens Suspended in Cyber Bullying Suicide Case"
FOXNews (January 27, 2010)

"Two Mass. high school students have been suspended following the suicide of a teen girl who was allegedly bullied at school and online, the reported.

"Friends and school officials told that Phoebe Prince, 15, had been picked on since moving to Massachusetts from Ireland last fall. School bullies reportedly taunted the teen through text messages, Facebook and other social networking sites...."

"...South Hadley High Principal Daniel Smith sent out a letter to parents of students at the high school. In the letter, he called Prince 'smart, charming, and as is the case with many teenagers, complicated ... We will never know the specific reasons why she chose to take her life,"' reported...."

"...Even after her death, bullies posted disparaging messages on her Facebook memorial page. The comments had to be removed from the page...."

Well! So this young woman was "smart, charming" - no wonder some of the locals hounded her to death. Competition like that can be inconvenient.

If this news item seems familiar, it should. There are strong parallels to the Jessica Logan and Megan Meier's suicides.

The news of Phoebe Prince's suicide - what I read - doesn't go into a great deal of detail. What there is: is disgusting.

"One message sent to the teenager shortly before she took her own life read: 'Go kill yourself'...." (Mail Online)


I don't know if what was done to Phoebe Prince came from the sort of warped values modeled by Pat "blame the Haitians" Robertson, if this attack was a simple matter of jealousy, or what was involved.

In a way, it doesn't matter. Phoebe Prince is dead.

Phoebe Prince is just the latest teen whose suicide is linked to online bullying.

I wrote about another, earlier, attack, in another blog:

"Jessica Logan and the Respectable People of Cincinnati"

"First, a bit about Jessica Logan.

"Short version: Jessica Logan was born in 1990. By the end of July 2008, she had sent young man a photo of herself, from the neck down, wearing no clothes; graduated from high school, and killed herself.

"The young man passed Jessica's photo on to four other young women. After that, Jessica was hounded by the 'good,' 'respectable' people in her peer group, and rejected from parties because she had a 'reputation.'

"Spare me from such respectability...."
(A Catholic Citizen in America (December 8, 2009))

About that photo: The jerk that Jessica Logan thought was her boyfriend pressured her to take it. Then, dumped her.

That was Jessica Logan. The current news is about Phoebe Prince.

Again: I have no details of what Phoebe Prince's attackers thought they were doing.

There Oughta be A Law!

Legislators, faced with a high-profile death like this, generally talk about legislation they'll push through. It's easy to see it as - at best - a knee-jerk reaction.

Maybe there does need to be new law code drawn up, to protect people from bullies online.

Or, maybe existing laws are applicable.

I don't know.

I do know that people think better when they're not emotionally worked up. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 23, 2008) And I think that it's a good idea to examine an idea, before implementing it.

Like 'outlaw cyberbullying.' Sounds good, doesn't it? The trick is to define "cyberbullying" so that reasonable freedom of expression isn't affected.

I've got a personal stake in this. I'm a writer, and maintain eleven (at last count) blogs. What if a "cyberbullying" law made it illegal to post something online, if someone reads it and feels bad later?

Does that sound silly? So did quite a few "emotional pain and suffering" lawsuits: but American courts decided against the defendant in quite a few, not all that long ago.

It's a stretch, but I can imagine someone being driven to despair by my latest Easy Griller post: "From Deep in the Heart of Darkest Minnesota: A Couple of Videos From Hawaii." Either from anguished sympathy for the poor chickens that were being grilled, or all the water in the Hawaii video. Maybe both.

I don't think this will happen - at least I hope not - but an injudiciously-written "cyberbully" law could make my writing that BBQ chicken post a felony.

Think the courts would never be that daft? Check out "Dred Scott, the Slavery Compromise, and Who to Trust," A Catholic Citizen in America (February 2, 2009).

This post doesn't sound very "apathetic," does it? I've written about this blog's name before.

Related posts:In the news:


Anonymous said...

Phoebe Prince (R.I.P.)

LaVena Lynn Johnson, Jamie Leigh Jones, what’s been happening since?
Josie Lou Ratley and the end of innocence for 15 year-old Phoebe Prince,
To those who pushed this girl to suicide I say murder in the first degree,
And during plea-bargaining negations nothing less than the max felony.

The first three mentioned had different circumstances in their own right,
However, what makes this unique is that it did not happen over night,
There was a continual pattern of harassment by bullies in high school,
On at least one occasion it was witnessed by students & a teacher too.

Exactly what must these administrators, teachers and their parents do?
To stop these students from imitating life found in the Metro Park Zoo,
By the way, speaking of administrators & parents not one of them knew?
Oh but wait, there were some in the upper echelon who did have a clue.

Arriving from Ireland it started last September, the girl never had a chance,
Tragically found hanging at home two days before the high school dance,
Enough became too much as she sadly ended her life this past January 14,
Nine will face charges of statutory rape, assault and others, six were teens

Back to those in charge who were aware of the in person and online abuse,
What kind of message are they sending, how about this one, what’s the use?
This wasn’t a job after graduation where everyone has the status of an adult,
Neither was it in some hide away camp, commune or serect religious cult.

Not a remote island off the radar neither a far away galaxy did it take place,
South Hadley Massachusetts which is located in the good old United States,
Primarily conducted at school during school hours as classes were in session,
I Yahooed, Googled, you name it but no where could I find this in any lesson.

It was so devesatating that her brokenhearted parents just had to move away,
Wondering why none came forward so they could see their child another day,
Here’s a question, whose son or daughter is being bullied right now and where?
Hopefully in future instances those in charge will do more than say, “we care.”

Earlier this month Massachusetts Legislature passed anti-bullying legislation,
If that is really the case then how did this young lady die from strangulation?
There’s an age old question, “if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?”
Here’s a new 1, “if a law’s passed & U R a victim anyway why have it around?”

by Luke Easter

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Anonymous/Luke Easter,

That last question, “if a law’s passed & U R a victim anyway why have it around?” - I'll offer this answer:

To help the next person who might be a victim.

Governments are unable to turn back time and undo what has been done. Just as well, I think.

Leaders can, however, make an effort to learn from what has happened, and take steps to help prevent similar tragedies.

Whether or not 'there oughta be a law' is the right approach or not is another question.

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