28 April 2011

Bullying?

When someone dies, everyone wants to know why.

The news stories seem to indicate that Phoebe Prince was very wild and unstable. She apparently stole boyfriends and didn't understand why people wound up hating her for her manipulation. It appears she had mental problems and her mother, on at least one occasion, left her alone at night. (Trouble, of course, ensued.)

Phoebe later killed herself after the chickens came home to roost with interest. Now the "bullies" are up on criminal charges and the grieving if somewhat inept mom is Scot-free.

It isn't nice to call someone an Irish slut. Or a whore. Or a c-word. But at the same time, I could picture myself at 15 or 16 saying that sort of thing to someone if she were sleeping around with my boyfriend and some other fellows. I could also easily imagine getting together with friends and snickering about her and/or gossiping. Spreading rumours about her on facebook and just about everywhere else. I'm not saying it's RIGHT. But I'd like to think it isn't criminal, particularly as it's somewhat instigated behaviour.

Bullying isn't always very clear-cut. Often the person bullied has contributed in some way to the problem. And sometimes what appears to be bullying on the surface is tit for tat sort of stuff that escalates. It would be easy to defend against libel if Prince were a public figure; the kids would simply show that what they have said is TRUE. Chick is sleeping around? Check. And is Irish? Check. Um, "Irish slut" would sorta fit there...

So I'm very concerned that everything seems to be labelled as "criminal bullying" now. If the other teens had threatened bodily injury to the "Irish slut," or in some other way done something a reasonable person would find frightening, that would be more in line with what I feel ought be prosecuted. If you've seen bullying, REAL bullying, where kids are smacked around and constantly belittled for things they can't help such as a disability, you'd understand that having people just plain old hate you and call you names because of stupid crap YOU DID, that YOU KNOW is stupid and wrong, should NOT count. "Bullying" should really imply some sort of defenselessness on the victim's part or some sort of threat or intimidation.

Now, wait. I'm not saying that these other kids were all nice or that nothing should be done about their mean-ness. If it's true that there were several yelling at her and throwing stuff, punish them for THAT. Not criminal charges for her death.

It just seems everyone wants to blame the schoolyard "bully" without looking at the entire picture. When someone dies, it shouldn't erase every blemish of the character of that person. It is considered impolite to speak ill of the dead but I think somebody probably has to to defend some living teenagers who are probably going through their own special hell right now.

The truth is that Phoebe's actions (or those of anyone who actually kills him/herself) were likely either borne of selfishness or mental illness. I would be inclined to think the latter.

This kid *should* have been ostracised for the way she acted. Not screamed at and having stuff thrown at her, but hello... you just CANNOT act the way she allegedly did and not expect a social consequence. The young lady should have learned a lesson from this ostracism, vowed never to have sex again before marriage, and apologized nicely to all the affected parties. The mother should have then taught her wayward daughter that yes, everyone will now shun you throughout your high school years. This is the price you pay for acting like a jerk. Stop acting like one.

Maybe I'm being too blunt. But this was a real child who did something horrible, drastic and wayyyy worse than what the so-called bullies could ever perpetrate. Her parents either let her get out of control, or needed and were unable to obtain enough help for their daughter. If I were the defense attorney for these kids, I'd want to know what the hey about why the parents aren't being prosecuted for negligence. You don't just leave a mentally ill and sexually active teen alone overnight unless someone cuts your leg off and you need to drive yourself to the emergency room, yk? But it may just be that these are simply fallible human parents who desperately wanted mental health help for their little girl and were unable to find any that really made any difference.

People aren't all good or evil. They just seem to be drawn that way in the news...

9 comments:

  1. I agree with you. It seems there must always be someone at fault. Bullying laws are just another way to enforce the micromanagement of our choices.

    That said, this is another sad story and I feel badly for her family.

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  2. It IS a terribly sad story. In the extreme search for blame I think sometimes we lose that this was a girl who probably used to be smart and funny and loveable before mental illness and personal problems took her life.

    I read things like this and think that MENTAL ILLNESS is the murderer... It isn't really even the young woman in her right mind that did this... Stories like this should drive us to ask for better drugs and therapies for the mentally ill... better insurance coverage... more psychiatric beds available.

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  3. I'm with you, but good grief, woman! You scared me to death. How could put up the title "Bullying" right after the "Elf Goes to School" post? I almost gave myself whiplash.

    Whew!

    ;o)

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  4. I think it's a shame how we as a society allow things like this to escalate, then when someone takes it to the extreme, with suicide, THEN society wants their 'pound of flesh' so to speak.

    Yep, her actions were wrong. Yep, no one was going to like her for it. Did she deserve to be judged and 'stoned' by her peers for it? No, not so much.....but you can't tell me that no one noticed who was in a position to put a stop to it. Be it her teachers, her parent, whatever....

    Maybe the parents should be held responsible....those of the girl, as well as those of the bully. Sad, sad situation all the way around.

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  5. OH sorry, Sue! No, actually things are going *well* at school, but I'm hesitant to post for fear of jinxing it just yet...

    Blondee, I'm going to disagree and say I think she DID deserve to be shunned socially if this article is true. There are second chances, just never with the same people, yk?? AND she had new chances in several different schools, which leads me to believe she had a serious moral failing of some kind.

    OF COURSE that does not mean it is ok to scream at her and throw stuff at her, and of course it doesn't mean that the school couldn't help a bit if it saw a problem. But I'm a bit nervous about schools getting involved in my home life. If my children got into a verbal fight with a schoolmate outside school time, I can't imagine where the school would need to know what was said about the other kid on facebook or whatever unless there were a specific or direct threat of some kind. So to me there would be a big difference between "Jamie is a slut" and "I will kick Jamie's butt." You know?

    Then I think, all this would be academic if Phoebe Prince grew up and became a well-adjusted adult. Isn't the "crime" the same thing whether she did or not?? Shouldn't it be??

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  6. Yes, I do agree completely. The things she did herself were hurtful towards others and will bring lots of bullying.

    However, when I was bullied in school, I never called names back. Actually, I was bullied mostly for my religion and being "prude". I was a virgin all through school yet for some reason I was called a slut all the time. My first kiss with my husband was on my wedding day. I absolutely hated high school. Some kids are just so out of control.

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  7. I did go and read it. I am shocked. I was bullied in that way but I never ever could dream of kids going to jail for it. I really don't think these kids should have to be punished like that. That's just crazy.

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  8. I hear you, but why does she have to be called and Irish Sl**?

    I am going through some online racial harrassment right now, but because someone didn't agree with something I wrote.

    It's Ok if they call me an idiot, but do I have to be called a NI***R C**N? No.

    Just say you hate me and move on. Maybe if they had done that, she would still be alive.

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  9. Of course (OF COURSE!!) she didn't "have" to be called an Irish slut. I have Irish ancestry myself, and I attributed this to the immaturity of the namecallers than to any racial yuckiness.

    And while she didn't have to be called that name, she also didn't have to kill herself, either. So far as I know, you aren't jumping off a bridge or slicing your wrists because some dope decides he doesn't like dark people. You recognize that it's because of something you wrote and instead of attacking the merit of your opinion, he's gonna show off his guttermouth and spout off. Hopefully it doesn't win him any friends or followers... If this is someone I know I would be talking to him about his language and if there are no changes? I'd "unfriend" from facebook and life. I have done that before but I **WISH** I could figure out a way to be a more effective advocate. All I feel I accomplished was getting someone mad and I go about it wrong prolly. There are no classes about how to handle internet bullies that I know about. :(

    This whole story though is full of bad characters. You've got the dumb mom who oh wow is surprised that her mentally ill teen is going to do stupid things when she leaves her alone all night as a HABIT. You've got this unstable chick who can't keep her own boyfriend and act normal, so she cuts herself, ruins her life over and over and gets her parents to constantly change schools for her. But she keeps bringing her wackiness wherever she goes, so drama ensues. Then you have these kids who decide they'll gang up on her and throw stuff. (Is there nothing else to do in that town?) And you have an either clueless school system or a totally inept one, standing around and doing nothing.

    I do wonder how often dramas like these are played out with less connected families who don't have their own lawyers to sue people when their snowflake does something stupid, yk? I don't know. I guess I can agree that the bullying can be a contributing factor, but based on what I'm reading I wouldn't imagine anyone should *criminally* prosecute. I mean, this kid was apparently a holy terror about everywhere else. If it didn't happen there, would it have happened at the next school?

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)