Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mean Girls...

A friend of Stuart's sent this to him. It's a chilling reminder that bullying really does happen. And it should never be described as "a part of growing up."

As parents, we need to be sure our girls (and boys) aren't victims...or the bullies.

Over the years, I've observed how two-faced girls can be: one person with Mom and Dad...quite another with a pack of their own kind.

It's something I've sternly warned Emily against. Fight the urge to hurt others...strive to be a nice girl...instead of a mean one.

Peace on earth doesn't start across the world in other countries... It starts in our own homes.

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The Untouchable Mean Girls
By Kevin Cullen
Globe Columnist / January 24, 2010

Like a lot of kids her age, Phoebe Prince was a swan, always beautiful and sometimes awkward.

Last fall, she moved from Ireland into western Massachusetts, a new town, a new high school, a new country, a new culture. She was 15, when all that matters is being liked and wearing the right clothes and just fitting in.

She was a freshman and she had a brief fling with a senior, a football player, and for this she became the target of the Mean Girls, who decided then and there that Phoebe didn’t know her place and that Phoebe would pay.

Kids can be mean, but the Mean Girls took it to another level, according to students and parents. They followed Phoebe around, calling her a slut. When they wanted to be more specific, they called her an Irish slut.

The name-calling, the stalking, the intimidation was relentless.

Ten days ago, Phoebe was walking home from school when one of the Mean Girls drove by in a car. An insult and an energy drink can came flying out the car window in Phoebe’s direction.

Phoebe kept walking, past the abuse, past the can, past the white picket fence, into her house. Then she walked into a closet and hanged herself. Her 12-year-old sister found her.

You would think this would give the bullies who hounded Phoebe some pause. Instead, they went on Facebook and mocked her in death.

They told State Police detectives they did nothing wrong, had nothing to do with Phoebe killing herself.

And then they went right back to school and started badmouthing Phoebe.

They had a dance, a cotillion, at the Log Cabin in Holyoke two days after Phoebe’s sister found her in the closet, and some who were there say one of the Mean Girls bragged about how she played dumb with the detectives who questioned her.

Last week, one of the Springfield TV stations sent a crew to South Hadley High to talk to the kids.

One girl was interviewed on camera, and she said what was common knowledge: that bullies were stalking the corridors of South Hadley High.

As soon as the TV crew was out of sight, one of the Mean Girls came up and slammed the girl who had been interviewed against a locker and punched her in the head.
The Mean Girls are pretty, and popular, and play sports.

So far, they appear to be untouchable, too.

South Hadley is a nice, comfortable middle-class suburb that hugs the Connecticut River nearby and a certain attitude.

“Things like this aren’t supposed to happen in South Hadley,’’ said Darby O’Brien, a high school parent, wondering why the bullies who tormented Phoebe are still in school. “And so instead of confronting the evil among us, the reality that there are bullies roaming the corridors at South Hadley High, people are blaming the victim, looking for excuses why a 15-year-old girl would do this. People are in denial.’’

School officials say there are three investigations going on. They say these things take time.

That doesn’t explain why the Mean Girls who tortured Phoebe remain in school, defiant, unscathed.

“What kind of message does this send to the good kids?’’ O’Brien asked. “How many kids haven’t come forward to tell what they know because they see the bullies walking around untouched?’’

They were supposed to hold a big meeting on Tuesday to talk about all this, but now that’s off for a couple of weeks.

O’Brien is thinking about going to that meeting and suggesting that they have the kids who bullied Phoebe look at the autopsy photos.

“Let them see what a kid who hung herself looks like,’’ he said.

Last week, Phoebe was supposed to visit Ireland, where she grew up, and she was excited because she was going to see her father for the first time in months.

She did end up going back to Ireland after all, and when her father saw her she was in a casket.

Phoebe’s family decided to bury her in County Clare. They wanted an ocean between her and the people who hounded her to the grave.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com.

3 comments:

Jadie said...

Very confronting theme you put here on your blog Susie. I was bullied being a kid called Jewish. I am not Jewish, but even if I was it would never be a reason to be bullied. School was not a safe place for me. And the saddest thing is that I only can recall one single time a teacher paid attention to me being bullied. Only one single time... School has to be safe place for a kid to grow up....

I have overcome the whole situation and I know I am strong!!! I can look the other right in the eye.

Aduladi' said...

I had the same issues Jadie. I remember a girl sitting next to me in an elementary school science class stabbing me in the leg with a ball point pen repeatedly. I sat there and took it, too afraid to say anything. When I did complain about the two "mean girls" to my teacher she did not take me seriously.

I will say now that if that were to happen today, I would and could easily take that girl down, LOL! I have forgiven their actions, but have forever been a little jaded about tween girls in the process. And I have two daughters on their way to the tween years... oy!

Elizabeth said...

I've had this post on my mind since I read it last week. I have a comment likely too long to fit in the block, so I'll email you. Thanks, as always, for being thought-provoking.