Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I'm sure everyone has seen on the news at this point, the suicide of that poor girl in South Hadley, MA. 9 teens have been charged with crimes relating to her death.
Phoebe was a pretty Irish girl who had started school this year as a freshman at South Hadley High. She had a fling with a senior football player, which apparently made some other girls jealous, because when it ended, the rentlentless bullying began. This girl had her books pushed out of her hands, cans chucked at her head, was continually called a slut, often times following her up and down hallways to do so, etc. etc. etc. A lot of this happened in front of teachers. Who apparently did a whole lot of nothing. Her mother called school administrators twice to complain about what was happening to her daughter, again, no result.
Proof positive that America has just become numb to how horrible high school students can be to one another. I remember high school, and I remember how mean kids can be to one another. And it is much easier in that environment to agree with other students that so-and-so is a slut, rather than stand up for her. Because standing up for someone may cause bullies to dump you and land you in the bullied group instead.
And maybe I have rose coloured hindsight, but in all four years of my high school, I don't think anyone was as awful to anyone as these kids were to Phoebe. Yeah we may have called people sluts, but it usually wasn't to their faces, and screaming it at a girl in front of a teacher would have ended someone with detention and some counselling sessions. And while there were fights, I don't recall a lot of one way, never ending assaults, and again, pushing someone's books out of their hands or throwing a can at them would have gotten you punished. Yet everyone seems to have looked the other way with these 9 nasty children.
I think social media has a lot to do with bullying getting worse. When I was in high school, there was no myspace, no facebook, no twitter. If you wanted to call someone a slut, you had to actually say it to someone. And it was sure as shit going to get back to that person that you had done so. Then came myspace, and the ability to belittle people without ever having to face them. They say at 42% of kids have been cyber bullied these days. All you had to do was create a fake page, with some easily grabbed fake pictures from the internet and start harassing whomever you felt like behind the shield of anonymity. It went so far that there was that crazy mother who helped her daughter trick another school girl into thinking that she had an internet boyfriend and then pretending that the boy suddenly hated her. This cause Megan Meier, also 14 at the time to hang herself in her closet as well.
It became so easy to bully someone online, that everyone became desensitized to it, and bullying in real life just gets worse and worse. And while some people say that these 9 teens did not cause Phoebe's death, it was a suicide, I say horseshit. Yeah, Phoebe has to take some of the blame, because she made a choice. But she was a 15 year old, in a new country at a fragile age, tormented by children so hateful and unfeeling that they continued to mock her on a facebook page set up in her memorial AFTER HER DEATH! They then proceeded to brag on their own facebook pages that they had "fooled" the cops when questioned. What are parents, and we as a culture, doing these days that kids have come to this?
While I don't think that these kids are guilty of manslaughter or anything similar. I do think that there need to be serious consequences to what they did and a serious amount of counselling as well, otherwise we could be looking at tomorrow's sociopaths.