After 9 charged in bullied Mass. girl’s suicide, schools face tough questions on preventionBy Denise Lavoie, AP
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
School staffs face tough questions on bullying
BOSTON — School officials in western Massachusetts didn’t follow all the anti-bullying advice they were given months before a harassed freshman girl committed suicide, according to a consultant who offered the tips.
Barbara Coloroso said she consulted with parents and administrators months before 15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself in January. Authorities say she endured months of verbal assaults and threats, mostly in school and in person, although some of the bullying occurred on Facebook and in other electronic forms.
“The questions to ask are: Did they follow their own rules and did they keep Phoebe safe? Obviously not. And, did they deal effectively with the bullies? Obviously not,” Coloroso told The Associated Press Tuesday.
Nine fellow students face charges in connection with the girl’s death, including two teen boys charged with statutory rape and a clique of girls charged with stalking, criminal harassment and violating Phoebe’s civil rights. School officials won’t be charged, even though authorities say they knew about the bullying.
School officials have not returned messages left by The Associated Press.
Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, who announced the charges Monday, said the events that occurred between September and Phoebe’s death Jan. 14 were “the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm.”
Scheibel said the case is still under investigation and that one other person could be charged. It’s unknown whether the teens who have been charged have attorneys.
Schiebel refused to discuss the circumstances of the rape charges.
No school officials are being charged because they had “a lack of understanding of harassment associated with teen dating relationships,” and the school’s code of conduct was interpreted and enforced in an “inconsistent” way, Scheibel said.
“Nevertheless, the actions — or inactions — of some adults at the school are troublesome,” she said.
Phoebe was born in Bedford, England and moved to County Clare, Ireland, when she was 2. She moved last summer to South Hadley because the family had relatives there.
Her family has since moved away and could not immediately be located for comment.
(This version DELETES old comments from an anti-bullying expert that were incorrectly attributed to the AP.)
Tags: Boston, Education Issues, Massachusetts, North America, Suicides, United States, Violence, Violent Crime