Friday, April 09, 2010

Bullying

A local story from South Hadley, Massachusetts has made the national news. A beautiful young woman took her own life in January after being bullied by other students at her high school for three months. The young lady, Phoebe Prince, had recently emigrated to the United States with her family. Photos show a beautiful girl with bright eyes and a contagious smile. Apparently, she was seen as a threat by some of the other girls at South Hadley High School, and these girls proceeded to torment her both at school, online and by calling her and texting her. Things escalated to the point where the "mean girls" threw a canned energy drink at Miss Prince while she was walking home from school on the last day of her life. Some of these students even put up a Facebook page page titled "We murdered Phoebe Prince" after Phoebe died. They went around in school mocking her death by pretending to hang themselves. Even Dr. Phil and CNN talked about this story. A photo of Phoebe was on the lower right cover of People Magazine.

It strikes me as terribly sad that a young woman had no hope left in her young life. She hung herself in a closet and her younger sister found her. What a traumatic day for her younger sister, as well.

Many are condemning the teachers and the school system for this tragedy. While I do think that more could have been done at the school level, I cannot help but wonder where the parents of these bullying students were during all of this. I wonder if maybe this could be a case of the apples not falling far from the trees. As I write this, nine students from this high school have been charged with numerous criminal charges, yet I have not seen or heard a word in the news from the parents of these young people. They are, to me anyway, conspicuous by their absence. The lives of these young people are forever altered. The media says that things did not have to get to this point.

The Prince family has asked, through a spokesperson, that no one resort to vigilantism and that the judicial system be allowed to work. I applaud them for this. I cannot even begin to imagine how sad and broken they must be right now. I have had times when my children have been gravely ill or critically injured. The heartache I felt at those times must be only a fraction of the pain this family is feeling.

I pray for the repose of the soul of this poor young lady and I pray for the family to find peace. I pray, also, that the perpetrators in this case have remorse and seek God's mercy and forgiveness.