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March 31st, 2010
01:00 PM ET

Father says daughter bullied at South Hadley H.S.

(CNN) – More students have been kicked out of South Hadley High School in Massachusetts after prosecutors say their bullying led to the suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince.

Nine students have been charged and the allegation that the bullying went this far has some parents calling for the South Hadley superintendent and high school principal to resign. Some say the school waited to address the bullying until it was too late.

Mitch Bouillard says his daughter was bullied for over three years by one of the students accused in the Phoebe Prince case. He's part of an anti-bullying task force and joined us on Wednesday's American Morning from South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Read more: Expulsions in bullying suicide case
Is your child being bullied? How to know, cope and make it stop

Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Jimmy Mac

    I think it is a real shame it had to come to this young girl to commit suicide it is a waste of a human life it realy makes me angry. I would like to know where the superintendent and the principal was were they a sleep. The bullies should pay for what they done. I was bullied as a kid because I was small I would go home and cry my father told me a bully is a coward just fight back I done that the next day and that bully left me a lone after that .And TO THE SUPERINTENDENT WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE.

    April 11, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  2. amanda

    March 31st, 2010 1:24 pm ET

    I hope the school administration, the parents AND the bullies are sued!!! This is absolutely disgusting... Phoebe was a beautiful young girl. This story breaks my heart...

    April 9, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  3. Concerned

    This is awful what our society has become. This poor girl has to endure months of torture by these so called "students". In the end, I blame the parents of these "bullies". Obviously their home life must be a fiasco if this is the way they have been brought up to treat people. Bottom line, what can all the other kids who are in a similar situation do to get help. Phoebe's family could not help. The teachers, principle and superintendant could not help. Where else is a 15 year old to turn? The system failed Phoebe. I hope these kids get some serious punishment to set an example, but we all know the outcome, nothing much will come of this.

    April 9, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  4. another tortured child

    My heart goes out to Pheobe and her family. My deepest sympathies to you all.

    I was also bullied as a child in junior high and it continued into high school by the same insensitive creeps. Teachers were aware and did nothing. I believe the thought process was a that it would make things worse. I was so hoping they would intervene on my behalf and they didn't. It's true that the more I resisted or complained the worse it became, so I tried to ignore and not respond at all in hopes that they would get bored and give up on trying to get me riled up. It was torture and totally humiliating. I was so affected that to this day I can't speak of it to ANYONE! No one!!!

    Thankfully I'm a pretty strong person and have overcome it for the most part, but whenever I hear about these situations, I get so angry!!! This has to be acknowledged and addressed. It it truly detrimental to the Psyche of a child and there self esteem. I finally dropped out of school. I just could not take it anymore.

    I think we need a no tolerance mentality and make these kids accountable. A wall of shame and suspension verging on expelling them from school.

    One more tortured child....

    April 8, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  5. Ken Leibow

    I am a parent of two teenagers. This is an outrage! Phoebe died a needless death. This could have definitely been prevented. School administrators and some teachers at South Hadley High School should be at least fired! Zero tolerance! The administrators and teachers of this school have permitted a hostile environment to evolve, and they never took corrective action. The highest priority and sense of urgency should be on everyone’s radar when it comes to the safety and welfare of our children. The teachers and school administrators are responsible for educating our children and providing a safe environment to learn. After a thorough investigation, I believe some of these South Hadley school administrators, teachers and parents have accountability and should pay by way of the criminal and civil court system. What disgusts me the most is that these criminal students still bullied Phoebe on her memorial websites. Where is the remorse for the death of Phoebe and her family from the parents of these bullies? Where is the remorse from the South Hadley High School Superintendant and Principal? Where is the remorse from the South Hadley School teachers? Human rights, civil rights and the life of Phoebe Prince has been violated and destroyed. All direct and indirect parties involved including students and adults should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I applaud the district attorney and hope she has the courage to bring justice to this horrific crime. This is tragic. May Phoebe Prince rest in peace...

    April 2, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  6. sauer kraut

    A. White – their pictures are easily available on the internet. All you need to do is do a search for their names (include "indicted" in your search).

    One of the boys indicted for statutory rape of Phoebe Prince has had one or more "fan" sites set up on Facebook. But even on that site, people who've joined (join by approval only; I am still waiting to be approved) admit that he messed up. They blame the media for bringing the issue and events into the light of day. As if reporters writing stories some 11 weeks after Phoebe died caused her death.

    Phoebe's death was caused by pervasive harassment, teacher and administrator indifference, and a few friends turning their backs in her hour of need. For their activities, 9 have been charged with criminal behavior (the 6 indicted on felony counts will be arraigned on Tuesday). For their indifference and lack of adherence to their professional obligations, the school employees get a little bit of criticism but not much more.

    And Brouillard participates in the so-called task force which is run by... school administrators led by SHHS principal Daniel Smith. If you watch the video, you will see a packed auditorium rise in applause. That was a standing ovation at the start of the very first task force meeting. For being indifferent, Daniel Smith was applauded. Among those in the front row on his feet is the state rep who now wants accountability. In task force meetings held since, there have been just a couple dozen or so who attend. Window dressing. That is all it is, window dressing.

    What's that old saying... the more things change, the more they stay the same? Welcome to South Hadley.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  7. dawna

    Thank God this dad is so well spoken and represents the core of righteousness with this situation. Look at it. Deal with it. Accept responsibility.

    April 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  8. Margie Murrell

    These kids should really be punished and their parents (if they knew about this).

    The problem with kids today is that they are not taught at home to have respect other people. The schools do not help either.

    My grandson was bullied while in grade school (me and my daughter had to the school many times to get it stopped). After he grew to be 6'4" no one dared to bother him, the other kids were afraid of him.

    The kids growing up in this day and age spend to much time on cell phones and on the computer regarding (facebook, twitter, myspace, etc.). These should all be taken away from them, and they should have to spend time outside and at the Library, and actually study at home. Parents need to know who their kids are spending time with, and where they are at, at all times.

    All these things are a proven fact, that the family unit in America has fallen apart (like it or not).

    April 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm |

    CURTIS shame on you , i hope it never happens to any of your loved ones , do you have any feelings , im so glad im not like you , hard horrible person you are.

    April 1, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  10. Oleg from Foster City, CA

    Kids will sometimes be cruel and require adult intervention, but we don't have to encourage this with age-segregated education and constant grading on a curve. Basically we are making each child to constantly compete with every other child they see on regular basis. In a mixed age classroom, older children will naturally enforce rules and break up fights while younger ones will ease isolation of teenagers who are not popular with peers.

    April 1, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  11. Rog

    What are Disney / MTV doing about bullying in school?? Or is it just too uncool for them to talk about bullied kids?

    April 1, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  12. Rog

    Agree with one of the comments already posted – if there's a death, all school administrative personnel should be fired / suspended immediately. How dare the other kids behave as though this was acceptable! It's very important that the repurcussions for the bullying kids / school personnel be widely publicized locally and nationally, so other students behaving similarly think twice before continuing. CNN needs to take this on as a task – maybe channels that kids watch should have the decency to publicize as well – disney kids / MTV etc.

    April 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
  13. Juliet S.

    I think this is just awful but it happens everyday everywhere. I am a school teacher and was also bullied as a child. It was something awful but I dealt with it. There were many days I didn't even want to go to school. What finallly had to happen was that I had to fight and when I did it was against three girls that were a year older than I was. Let me tell you, I took care of them and never had any problems again. This incident also did a lot for my confidence. Nobody ever bothered me again. I didn't turn into some bad person but I did learn how to stand up for my self. I am a mother of two and I am raising my girls to stand up for themselves and not to take any crap off anybody. Not too long ago, my oldest daughter got jumped on in the bathroom at school by two girls and had to fight to get out of there. When I reported it my daughter got into trouble for fighting. I think the whole system is screwed up, you can't win for losing.

    April 1, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
  14. Rachael

    Children's brains are not fully developed they are in school to learn, this learning should include behavior and "group behavior" , espeically how it relates to bullying. Many new studies show how the children, no matter now awful they sound and/or act are not truly do not understand the difference between right and wrong, regardless of how us adults think they should

    The staff of the school are ultimately responbible for not intervening.

    April 1, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  15. Lin McKay

    Taking Mr. Bouillard's comments as truth and at face value, there is no doubt that the superintendent, vice superintendent, principal and vice principal, if there is one, should all tender their resignations. They did not protect the students, our children, from the bullying of a few. All confidence is lost in the administration leaders and they now have become despised lame ducks. Period. Sad but true that inaction causes reaction. I doubt there is anything they can now say that will undo the damage to their reputations. It seems they were challenged and defeated by the haves while those haves attacked the have nots. This is wrong. For administrators to be controlled by a few "mean girls" and lowlife guys shows that they have lost control. The prosecutor must rethink and review the facts and hopefully charge the adults in-charge and any of the parents of the bulliers who knew this was going on . . . give them all a polygraph test. Phoebe Prince's life MUST STAND FOR SOMETHING and perhaps she will be the lightening rod that moves our country to have a total NO TOLERANCE stand on bullying. It makes me ill to think what that poor child went through. The suspects SHOULD ALL BE TRIED AS ADULTS AND WHEN FOUND GUILTY, SENTENCED AS ADULTS. The glory of the football field is over for Sean. He will likely be found guilty and when incarcerated he will understand rape . . . as he becomes some inmates' 'wife' and is traded around for books of stamps. Although it will not bring back their daughter, I hope the Prince family considers suing every one of the nine and their parents. They can use the money to begin a foundation that stands up to bullies and makes them accountable. I pray they will find peace. Now it is up to all of us parents to stand up and be counted . . . we must not condone bullying of any child at any time. Period.

    April 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  16. Christine

    This is what happens when parents and administrations allow children to act as they wish. Most parents know how their children behave but some are too lazy or weak to discipline them. As for the teachers, they should have stood up and put an end to this. Perhaps they are just as intimidated by the bullies as the rest of the school~just takes one of those kids to start a rumor / lie about a teacher's sexual advance and that's the end of their career.

    Time for the adults to take back control.

    April 1, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  17. luma

    Just heard a woman on a bayarea station say that after 3 times of being bullied you can call cps on them.

    April 1, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  18. S. Koch

    When my oldest daughter, who is now 20...was in the First Grade, she called a boy in her class a not so nice name.... she was called into the principals office and we were called. To this day, she hasn't forgotten what we made her do....she had to write a letter of apology to the boy, his parents, and the principal! The principal kept that letter for years....and she learned a life long lesson! We still talk about changed her life...and she spoke about it at her High School Graduation!

    April 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  19. Sankofa

    To ask these people to resign is just stupid. When you're dealing with the number of kids like this how can any one person know a person is on the verge of suicide. If anyone had a closer view od the childs mental condition is would be the parents and other family members.
    But to end a career is stupid!

    April 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  20. Chuck Blalock

    I live in Palestine, Tx and my son attends Westwood ISD elementary. He is in 4th grade. Well he came home last night, and at church broke down in tears sobbing, so through his sister we finally found out that he was being bullyied as well. Another kid, and get this, ain't even in his class but is sent to his class for bad behavior cause his own teacher can't handle him, gets mad at my son for blocking a pass in basketball, and uses cuss words, which my son knows is bad and doesn't use cause he has been taught better, cusses him out and threatens to beat him up later when teachers aren't around. Couple automatic questions i have is Where are the teachers when this happens? Why is this kid sent to another classroom instead of the office or suspended to home when his own teacher cannot handle him? And what happens if he does attack my son and my sone fights back? I can at least answer the last one. My son will get suspended and reprimanded even tho0ugh he is the one getting bullyied if he fights back. My wife explained to me last night that she was frustrated, having spoken to the school on previous occasions, cause the first question out of the principal/asst principal's mouth to my son is "What did you do?". Despite what others think, there are kids out there, not being raised proerly by their parents, that are to blame and do attack unprovked. It isn't always the victim's fault for having done something to provoke a kid that is out of control to begin with.

    April 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  21. Eliza

    Where are the parents of these bullies? Their faces should be plastered on the news also!

    April 1, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  22. Peace

    I hope the family finds some peace within. I hope their daughter's circumstances are a wake up call to all parents and schools about this horrible and increasingly deadly problem in our schools. I hope no tolerance policies on bullying are adopted in her name.

    She may have found the cure for cancer. She may have been a great singer or dancer. She may have done something special in her lifetime and she is gone. Perhaps in her passing she will still do extraordinary things for others in need.

    So sorry for their loss.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  23. Molly

    In my opinion, as someone who was ridiculed and bullied in school and then harrassed, slandered, and bullied in the workplace for years, there should be a mandatory bullying defense class taught EVERY YEAR to all students from grade 5 or so on until they graduate high school. Not just how to defend oneself against the bully, but also to understand the heart and purpose of the bully. Bullying doesn't stop with grade 12; these bullies then get jobs after high school or college and demean and wreck more people in the workplace. Bullies don't stop when their youth is over; they continue into middle age.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  24. be

    I was a bullied kid too, growing up poor, etc, then, many years later, I watched my son go through it, every day, relentlessly, on the bus, in the classroom, having money stolen, being tripped, pushed, called names... the teachers.. did nothing, I asked, begged, pleaded, had conferences, but it seemed that he usually ended up in detention for reacting back... I pulled him out and put him in private school he is much better off... teachers, school officials.. they start out caring and I think eventually, they just don't care anymore. My heart goes out to Pheobe's family.. shame on the school, the kids and the parents who knew it was happening.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  25. kd

    I was bullied (back in the 70's) by a group of kids through HS. One actually use to spit on me. Even when a teacher saw it they did nothing about it. No one stepped in to stop the abuse. I was on my own, and because of other issues, didn't fight back. It led to a lot of self-esteem issues as other problems. The more I walked away from their abuse, the worst it became. It was a nightmare. I wanted to kill myself on several occations. I will never go to my HS reunion. I not only make sure my kids aren't bullyed, I also make sure they don't bully others. I have taught them the pain they are inflicting by joining others in calling someone names. It's one thing I won't tolerate in our family.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:24 am |
  26. Shawnne Mc Kenna

    It isn't just this one school that has bullying issues. It seems to be an ongoing, timeless problem that gets worse with time. I was bullied by grade school as well as Junior high/High school kids. Basically, the teachers and administrators were not responsive to this issue. When my daughters attended school, they were all bullied to various degrees. It was never as extreme as with this poor young woman but it did and does continue to affect them to this day. I have a grandson who also is being bullied in 7th grade. His mother is going to home school him next year because the teachers and administrators won't do anything about this! This is in Minnesota, which is considered one of the more educationally progressive states! It concerns me greatly that this is not taken as serious and often is never dealt with.
    I feel so badly for the families of those children who end up taking their own lives as a result of this.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  27. A. White

    Oh, and put their (bullies) pictures and names in the media (TV best, internet and newspapers) so everyone knows who they are and what they did.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  28. A. White

    L.Norris....I agree with suing the school, the administration and the parents of the bullys until they are homeless and starving. It is an outrage! But the first offense of a bully should not be to move them down one grade so they can harm even younger and more vulnerable kids, but to send them to those alternative schools for the rest of their school years. I like taking away their priviledge of a driver's license or leaner's permit unti age 21. I think that would stop a lot of teens from the mere thought of bullying. Second offense should send them straight to jail and I LOVE your idea to put on a list like a sex offender because they will do doubt go to another school and bully again....same as a sex offender. Third offense..they and their parents should be jailed (third strike rule) and IF they get out they should have to pay (say $100.00) per person, for each DAY they bullied that person or the time they spend in jail! We've become WAY too lenient.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  29. June Coleman

    I agree with most of these comments, but especially A. Frederick.

    I taught my five kids, boys and girls, to not start a fight, but to NOT back away. If you are being picked on give better than you are getting. That if they got in trouble for standing up for themselves I would be there in heart beat to support them. But if "they" were at fault they would be in trouble with me. Worked better with some of my kids as their natures weren't all the same.

    There is never, never, never any reason for a child, boy or girl to be bullied and never, never, never a reason for the bullier to not be punished in the fullest possible way.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  30. Dottie peterson

    I can say this is a problem everywhere. I have had my grandchild also bullied at school. The things she tells me are scary.
    I told her i would like to be a hall monitor at her school and just see what goes on and call every child who bullies another one into the principals office, There should be consequences for their actions.
    I also work at a place that has an employee who bullies all the other workers. I have told management about this and explained to her this is just like school bullies. They defend her as a good worker, but from what i am told it is humilating to the other employees,. i have also been attacked by her but i do not let it go on. I confront her on her actions and have even had meeting with her and my manager, to no avail. i have told her in front of my manager that she is a liar and trouble maker but nothing happens.
    We all know she is the person who runs to the boss and tells all and gets her way with everything. They even change her hrs to accomondiate her.
    I guess it goes on everywhere but i say start standing up for yourselves and report it as much as possible.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  31. Jodi

    My son is a 4th grader and I am scared to death for what he might continue to experience from bullys every single day. He is taunted because we arent in the same 'social class' as alot of his classmates. He dresses exactly like them, looks exactly like them, but because we dont have the big house in the same neighborhood they ridicule him. One boy used to physically attack him on the playground, it was just before Christmas "08 that it got really bad and my son decided to fight back. He was so upset this poor child didnt enjoy his holiday! He did not want to go back to school! We got very lucky and that boy moved away at the end of the year, but there is still a group of 4-5 boys that remind him daily he is not as good as them and I fear what might be ahead when they are all in middle school. I'm scared to death. My only 'weapon' so to speak is to keep constant communication with my son and be behind him every step of the way. For the life of me I cant understand why people, children and adults alike, can't just treat each other with the common decency we all deserve!!!!!! Why aren't ALL parents teaching this in their homes!!!!!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  32. Me & Alli...

    When my son was about 10 he faked being sick a couple days in a row, followed by wanting me to drive him to school for a couple days until, after practically dragging it out of him, he told me that he was being bullied at the bus stop. I remained as calm as I could, coaxing him to explain what had been going on (he was very reluctant to tell me) and the instant he shared where the kid lived I told him to sit tight, I'd be right back. I about drove my car through their garage and pounded on their front door only to meet a very kind and concerned mother. She was furious when she found out what her son was doing, confessing that he had been a victim to a bully himself only a couple years earlier, and brought him to the front door to apologize. It only took a few words (and maybe my flaring nostrils) to convey to this boy that I would gladly remove his ears before I would repeat a cordial conversation with him and his mother again. From the comments I've read above, apparently teachers and principals are worthless when it comes to protecting our children when they are in their care. Schools should institute a person or department that handles just this – bullies – just like there's a nurse and a counselor available at all schools, apparently this is not an uncommon problem yet incredibly serious. I wish I had been there for that poor, poor girl. God bless her and her family.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  33. Adam Copeland

    I feel terrible for kids who get bullied, but when did parents stop being held accountable for their children and their wellbeing. When did the school system and teachers become a babysitting service? If a child is depressed to the point of suicide an involved parent should be able to notice this. I am a father and I can tell if something is wrong with my daughter just by her attitude and actions. Come on parents get involved with your kids, stop relying on others and blaming them for your childrens actions.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  34. Dolly

    Shame on the bullys, but SHAME SHAME on the parents for teaching their children that this type of behavior is ok! Children copy what they learn at home. Parents should take a look in the mirror. Parents should be prosecuted and sued; maybe hitting them in the pocket book is the only way to get them to take notice. That is the only thing that seems important to them.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  35. Curtis

    Come peole get real.. i was bullied in JR high and high school. I did not kill myself nor did I shoot up the school. I became a fully functional member of society. Bulling or being bullied is a part of growning up. Kids are mean. What those kids need to know is after high school life gets better. Karma is returned most of the time. Killing yourself is NEVER the answer. No matter how bad things get. Killing yourself is worng. Where were her parents? Why couldn't she talk to them about what was going on? Why didn't her parents notice things? Schools are meant to be places for learning. KIDS ARE MEAN. If you can not cope with people being bullies then get home schooled. Out in the real world bullies may sometimes get their just desserts but more often than not they become your bosses or co-workers. Grow a tougher skin and work harder at school. Get accepted to a great college and then make more money than they do. Hire them. Then fire them. Come on people.... WAKE up and live in the real world. The girl was a coward who rather than face her problems and seek help.. She took the cowards way out and ended her life. What a waste...

    April 1, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  36. Patrick henning

    20 years ago I was severely bullied in high school for 4 years. Everyday I was called horrible names and when I tried to get transferred out of classes where I was bullied, I wasn't helped. I wish I had stuck up for myself, but I was taught that fighting was wrong. 20 years later I find myself a very defensive person and I'm sure it is all due to these horrible 4 years of my life. Schools need to change.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  37. Mickey Purnell

    Where does all of this hatred and violence come from? I remember very vividly when I was in high school, and our "group" never ever considered anything of this nature. I'm not sure if it is the parents, the school officials/administrators, or who, but something must be done about this hopefully before another young person sees suicide as their only solution. What is happening to our youth?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  38. John C

    Nothing will break a bully from the habit faster than a broken nose. Teach your kids to fight, not a McBlackbelt school but classes in MMA . Teach them to stand up to these little animals and the bullying will stop.

    April 1, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  39. OSU

    As a parent you have to be PROACTIVE. If you know your child is being bullied, you have to step up to the plate. There were just a couple of times in my son's life in elementary school where he was being bothered by some insecure loser. He is a toughie, so he fended for himself, so I knew when he mentioned it to me it would be out of control. What did I do? I called the teacher and told her about the situation. That's called being PROACTIVE. She took care of the situation. That's what you do.

    April 1, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  40. Deeply Saddened by Events

    This is horrific. I feel the pain that Phoebe must have felt. When I read the day she died, she was tormented in a library w faculty looking on, how can adult sleep at night? When an adult watches and does nothing, it's like saying "go for it, it's okay to torment that child, she's nobody" That faculty member sh/b fired along w/ any other adult who "ignored" the situation. Bullying is NOT acceptable, it's a crime when we're adults, it's a crime in high school. But how did these students become bullies? Aren't their parents aware their children are terrorizing other students. I was once bullied horribly and you never forget it. A child should not be terrified to go to school every day and feel there's nothing else to do but end her life at the age of 15. The staff at the high school need to be accountable. Including Phoebe's tragedy, two 11 yr old also hung themselves over being bullied in other schools and states. We need to make this stop, change laws, fire incompetent staff, send people to prison. Let's prevent other students from suffering like PHoebe did.

    April 1, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  41. Kara

    The teachers are to blame also. My children had a teacher and coach that I would consider a bully and no matter how much complaining to the administration nothing was done as he had tenure. Also if a student had the right name in school whatever they were involved in no discipline was ever done to these kids, but let it be another student that was not political correct and they would receive punishment.

    April 1, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  42. ladycelticpoet

    I think it is so sad that the family member s of some of the parents who bullied this girl from Ireland have come out and taken the side of her child's behavior. While we don't know exactly what occured just yet ti will be coming out in days to come and I think you will find that more often than not that those who bully live in homes where parents do not teach them to take responsibility for what they do. The fact is that sometimes in schools teachers and administrators are bullys themselves in out school!!!!!

    We also have the cultural differences that Irish familes have in thier families. They are not going to complain to the schools like American parents would, but nonetheless, it is so sad that parents now seems more intent on being friends with their kids rather than teaching them something. Someone has died here that should be a big deal, but I can see the parents of these kids do not see it that way.

    One of the bigger problems is that school system have administrators and teachers who are not effective and then you have teachers unions who make is SO hard to fire them. If they are not good teachers let them go away. It is so sad what has happened to this famiily.

    April 1, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  43. John

    My heart goes out to the parents of Phoebe. I cannot imagine loosing a child in this way, or in any way for that matter.

    There is blame, for sure, to be placed on the school system as well as blame to be placed on the parents of the 9 students. However, I think we are missing whre the bulk of blame should be placed.

    The ACLU.

    They have made it impossible for schools to keep any discipline what so ever. I have 3 grand daughters in school now and by visiting them have seen what goes on in the class rooms now and it sickens me. These kids are out of control and the schools cannot raise a hand to curb it.

    Parents have been hand tied by the same group of idiot lawyers. If my son tries to discipline our oldest grand daughter, he sometimes gets, "I'll turn you over to family services," from her. She is really a good girl but all kids need some guidance sometimes. I know she is just mouthing words, but I still know where that ultimately comes from. The ACLU.

    When I was bad in school I knew I was going to get thrashed there and also when I got home. That was a pretty good deterent. In our school the teachers didn't spank. They called the custodian and he took care of us. I think if it wasn't for the ACLU those 9 would have been sent to the custodian a long time ago and we wouldn't be seeing all these problems on TV.

    April 1, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  44. Mary Barber

    If Massachusetts wants to get serious about bullying in schools, I suggest it look to its neighbor--Vermont. A Vermont bullying law was put into law after the suicide of 13-year old Ryan Patrick Halligan. If Massachusetts had such a law, prosecution might be much easier. But, most importantly, the level of awareness amongst students and teachers escalates. The Vermont law requires schools
    to deal with the problem. I recently retired from teaching and during my last ten years, I was part of a concentrated staff development effort & participated in developing bullying policies as both a teacher and a school board member. Not one school...not one principal...not one teacher in Vermont can stand by and allow bullying. All know that there is a legal price to pay. When the level of awareness increases, tthe amount of bullying decreases. Ryan's dad was the driving force for the law. Google Ryan's name and you can read his tragic story on-line. His dad travels to schools talking to students and teachers about the events that led to his son's suicide. I know for a fact, that he has been in schools in Massachusetts. It would behoove you to refer to Vermont's law in your reports.
    Mary Barber

    April 1, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  45. Scott

    I am an administrator at a large high school and there are times when students inform us they are being bullyed and we take action. There are often times when teachers and other adults know of a student being bullyed and do nothing about it. The responsibility of student safety ultimately falls on the administration but all stakeholders must actively be involved in anti-bullying campaigns long before it gets to the point of a student taking their own life or the life of another student. My own daughter has been bullyed at her school and we notified the administration. They took action and we are keeping a close eye on the situation. We also asked if we could speak with the parents of the student bullying our daughter and it was a very successful meeting. I am asking that my daughter's school promote more programs for students who bully and those who are bullyed. Instead of suspending students (as a first option), there should be programs for the parent and student to participate in if there is proof of bullying. If the student who is doing the bullying continues, then the school should move forward with mor severe consequences such as police notification and suspension. Part of the problem is that the police, courts and community are not actively involved or interested in this issue unless it impacts their own child or family memeber/friend. I hope the children in custody are dealt with but the entire process and ALL people involved should be investigated before calls for resignation are made. For example, if parents made complaints and nothing was done on the school level, what happened next? Did anyone attend a board meeting? Did the community make this an issue for the school board and the police to investigate? What is the attitude of the police? Does the police department push a lot of complaints to the side like many departments do? Bullying is a major issue around the country and it's ashame this has happened. I thought about my daughter when I saw this story and I am going raise the bar in my own school and my daughter's school.

    April 1, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  46. MaryEllen Banks

    I was speechless and appalled when I heard this story. What ever happened to Zero Tolerance? We have schools that are willing to suspend 5 and 7 yr old children for bringing 1 inch toy guns to school but nothing was done about this?? The staff and administrators that knew about this should be made to resign. Yes, bullying has been going on forever but in today's world of technology and all of the reality tv shows out there that are teaching our youth how to be even more mean and hateful it should be taken even more seriously. Kids who are bullied today cannot get away from it and how can a young teenager handle the stress of constant harassment and downright meanness? I can't help but wonder what minority groups (and I'm not talking just about race either) Zero Tolerance and Hate Crimes would apply to.

    Note to self: If my child gets bullied at the levels that this beautiful young girl was bullied and the school administrators ignored it and refused to do anything about it than get the police involved.

    I really hope that these students are made an example of what will happen to bullies – they need to be tried as adults and serve jail time.

    April 1, 2010 at 7:59 am |
  47. brenda

    Absolutely bad girls become bad women.
    That same behavior follows them into the work place. I have read that women managers are more apt to bully females at work. Some of the reasons were low self-esteem, jealousy…

    These are some of the same reasons we use to explain high school students
    Do you think that the culture and environment of the workplace encourages bullying. For example, the move A Few Good Men.

    Also, do you think there is a level of subjectivity to accusing someone of bullying?

    April 1, 2010 at 6:59 am |
  48. Sandy

    We took our 3 yr. old grandson to McDonald's & let him play on their play equipment & a little 'bully' got him in one of the areas in the back & asked him if he 'wanted to fight' & hurt his cheeks. They were on top in the back where we couldn't see but I screamed his name & he stood up rubbing his cheeks. The little 'bully' looked about 4/5 yrs. old & family member was on cell phone. It can happen anywhere!

    April 1, 2010 at 6:50 am |
  49. marcy

    I live in a small mid west town, where this is going on in the schools here. My son was bullied so badly that he was put in the hostipal three times. I stayed up with him many nights to make sure he didn't harm himself. He has had this going on since he started school because he is different. The school just talked with the kids and did nothing to them. I'm not even sure they told the parents. This has to stop, kids that bully shouldn't be able to attend public schools.

    April 1, 2010 at 6:47 am |
  50. Dr. Mitch Varlso

    The social networking sites I believe should have a dedicated team that reviews comments and media messages like these, the user should be able to anonymously raise a red flag on any comment and/or message and the social sites should be required to review it within an hour. This would show some fair concern and responsibility on behalf of these controlling and dominating websites. It would also tremendously decrease the severe consequences of the bullying communication on these websites.

    April 1, 2010 at 6:39 am |
  51. Brad G

    I think the charges are outrageous. I agree bullying is an issue, but something isn't a problem until there is a solution, not a scapegoat. Shame on these prosecutors for trying to head hunt these teens for doing what human nature dictates, teens naturally follow the crowd, we all learned this in pysch 101 back in college. Don't make these children suffer under the plague of legal trouble for the next few years because of what happened, instead address the issue of bullying and work on teaching kids how to cope and be individuals.

    April 1, 2010 at 6:04 am |
  52. A Frederick

    As the father of 2 sons I have had to deal with acts of bulling commited against my sons, Although it is not popular in todays circules I explained to my sons that they would have to face times in their lives that they would have to take a stand for themselves or else they would become subject to the whims of others. The advice I gave my sons my not be applicable to your circumstances so accept my thoughts within the context of our situation. I told my boys that when all other means were exhausted that they needed to pick out the leader of the group and find a time when he was without his entourage and then with all his will carve out for himself the respect he deserved. This radical approach is not my style of resolving problems and I have taught my sons to not fight. However there are times when you have to take a stand. In regards to self esteem my sons felt better about themselves and learned to manage some of lifes darker sides.

    April 1, 2010 at 5:35 am |
  53. susan

    Bullying is what Hitler's brown shirt youths did before the Holocaust.
    Is this what we want? Do we want to raise up youths who are used to the idea of victimization?

    I don't think these practices are ones that contribute to democracy. Instead, they have the potential to contribute to a dictatorship.

    Hitler rose to power in a democracy. He used German youth to instill fear and non-cooperation (to ensure that citizens would just stand by and allow the brutalizing of the Jews).

    I thought we were not going to forget the Holocaust, yet here we are forgetting history.

    And the prosecutors by allowing school authority figures to get off scott free, are themselves being silent bystanders.

    April 1, 2010 at 5:14 am |
  54. Dave

    This is the sort of things that lead to incidents like Columbine.

    If administrators don't step in, they should be fired.

    April 1, 2010 at 3:45 am |
  55. Gerard

    There needs to be legislation in the form of an enforceable law to put an immediate stop to this unacceptable behavior......with fines and/or prison time to the violators. Bullying is just downright being mean and nasty to fellow students. Students go to school to learn and not to be "murdered" by bullying SOB's. I can just see conservatives defending them.....are there no decent young children anymore or school authorities? This really sucks!

    April 1, 2010 at 1:09 am |
  56. dale fukagawa

    where were the adminstrators in all this? there has to be some accountablity in all of this. heads should roll from not only to the teachers that witnessed the bullying and did nothing, to the high school administration and up to and including the superintendent. it looks like to me that the current administration is incompetent.

    April 1, 2010 at 12:51 am |
  57. LaTeacher

    Bullies are usually not marginalized people. They have social power within the school, and very often within the city. I have seen this happen in more than one school, where bullies are overlooked rather than called on their behavior. Faculty and administration do not want to deal with the bully's familly. It's just easier to overlook things than confront people with social power and call them on their behavior. It doesn't go over well. I have seen that happen also.

    March 31, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  58. marie

    where a student has died because of bullying, all teacher staff and principals should be fired immediately. it is sad to say but this may be the only way to force them to open their eyes and respond to what is in front of them.

    March 31, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
  59. chris

    why cant we just get along and why would you bully someone we are all humans.

    March 31, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  60. Stefanie Wolfe

    I know how Phoebe Prince may have felt. I was also bullied relentlessly in High School by my former girl friends. One was once a friend since Kindergarten. The only thing I could remember that set it off was that these girls said I acted too "baby-fied". I was a very, very shy and a quiet person. I am now 54 years old but still feel the horrible feelings to this day especially when I hear of a senseless tragedy like Phoebe's. I was totally emotionally bullied, luckily was never physically bullied, but was intimidated to the point that I would avoid going in parts of the school where I could possibly be physically attacked. I had a nervous breakdown, one of many, but this one was in school. It was in the middle of being ridiculed by these girls and I dropped a soda bottle and was accused of throwing it at one of the bullies. I was so driven to despair that I had planned my suicide at the school because I wanted the bullies to see what they had done to me. I had suicidal thoughts on many occasions. I call it Divine intervention or maybe because I went to a small school that the principal and teachers listened to my mother's pleas and threats of taking me out of school that they did try to help put a stop to it. They managed to place me in a classroom my Senior year without the girls who were bullying me. But they missed one of the girls they didn't know about. She tried to intimidate me but was like a fish out of water without her group in the class. But outside of class, when all were together, they were strong. They managed to keep their status as "bullies" quietly. Mostly because people like me & Phoebe don't want to be labled as "squealers" or "cowards". So you do tolerate alot of it. Thank God I wasn't the type of person that would want to hurt anyone else, even though they were hurting me. It's so sad to hear that is what some young people decide to do. It's "fight" or "flight". I chose "flight". So did Phoebe. Our educators do need to take this serious, whether the bully is a popular kid or not. No one deserves to be treated that way especially in a place where you are supposed to be safe. God Bless Phoebe's family, my heart goes out to them.

    March 31, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
  61. Erica Laughlin

    This has been a serious issue here in South Hadley for decades. I remember it being a problem when I was a kid growing up in the next town over. It's a problem that is not exclusive to South Hadley is all around the surrounding cities and towns. Last April Charles Hoover-Walker, Jr (age 11) committed suicide as a result of bullying. I would like to know why it took another death to make people wake up and start to make a change. This task force and people demanding something be done should have been done years ago. Phoebe is not the first victim...not by a longshot. In the past kids have been harrassed to the point of changing schools and for at least one, relocated. My family just moved here from the next town over where we have had chronic issues with bullying and harrassing. My husband and I followed all proper protocol in reporting the incidents. We were treated as though we were wasting everyone's time and that we were overreacting. The assistant superintendant sat in a meeting with us, the principal, the teachers, the school counselor and the father of the other child. The father became beligerant and combative, issuing another threat right there in front of everyone before he stormed out of the meeting. The assistant superintendant sat there with a puss on his face as though he clearly had better things to do. We've saved all correspondence with the school in regards to that issue. We had additional chronic problems at the middle school. Again, we were brushed off. Frankly, it is a fact that the bullies are protected around here. The victims are thrown back out into the lair of the aggressive kids...the kids who know that they can get away with anything because nothing will really be done to stop them.

    March 31, 2010 at 9:16 pm |
  62. roland schmidt

    I am a 87 year old ww11 army veteran and i can remember like it was yesterday,but when i was only seven years old, a gang of boys bullied my cousin because he dressed poorly.While this was going on he died of a blood clot,I was devistated

    March 31, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  63. Mike

    an assault is an an assult but names will never hurt me has come to this? since when has the school system taken over for proper parenting? did i miss a board meeting in the out house?

    March 31, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  64. standup

    I think all the students should be punished for what they did. It was a crime. Bullying and low self-esteem is a learned behavior. Parents need to stop trying to line their pockets and spend quality time with thier kids so their kids don't take their frustration out on others. I dont think the parents should be soley to blame or punished because these kids are also influenced by others, but parents should do a better job at monitoring their kids activities. I also don't think this will be the last that we hear of something like this because there are adults well into their 20s,30s,40 that still bully for what ever reason. I think what we need to start doing is teaching our kids how to stand up for themselves.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  65. Mya

    Many of the teachers at this school need to be shown the door as well. Zero tolerance for bullying and the teachers that enable it.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  66. a. lin

    I hope they bullies are prosecuted. I hope the teachers and administrators of the school are also prosecuted for not doing something as soon as there was even a hint of bullying. And I hope the parents of the bullies also face prosecution! What kind of parents bring up kids who will stalk and threaten and bully others??? Those kids have learned bad behaviors and haven't learned human decency–and they can't blame it all on society.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
  67. Don

    A public caning at the school auditorium might be a good option, a child deserves the right to go to school without fear, or harrassment, school laws should be similar to workplace laws, it's sad that a childs life ends because of this, parent, teacher, intervension is critical here, also laws need to be changed to make this kind of behavior illegal, I applaude the expulsion and prosecution of these kids.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  68. jon

    Disgusting! How could school officials not step in?! They should be fired and prosecuted along with the kids!

    March 31, 2010 at 2:52 pm |

    OH how sad my heart goes out to her and her family , i was bullied it was hell, shame on the 9 shame on them , i did read that one of the bullys mum said it was phoebes own fault that she started the name calling , well shame on the bullys mum its not her dauughter thats dead is it and another thing what kind of mum is she , she blames dear phoebe for her daughter being a nasty , evil girl , poor phoebe is dead she can not defend herself , im a mum of 2 kids in england ,if any of my kids had done that god help them , bless phoebe and her family .

    March 31, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
  70. wayne quinn

    This father being interviewed should become the vice principal of the school. He has a good handle on the situation and is fair minded

    March 31, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  71. Lorraine Norris

    I hope the school, the administration and the parents of the bullys are sued until they are homeless and starving. What an outrage! First offense of a bully should be to be moved down one grade and loose the priviledge of a driver's license or leaner's permit unti age 21. I think that would totally stop alot of teens from the mere thought of bullying. Second offense should be they are kicked out of the school and put on a list like a sex offender because they will do doubt go to another school and bully again....same as a sex offender. Third offense..they and their parents should be jailed and when they are out they should have to pay (say $100.00) per person, per week for the time they spend in jail.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:24 pm |