Memories of a teens suicide almost a year after they were bullied still haunts South Hadley residents, however, these residents did not put bullying down as a major concern. 15-year-old Phoebe Prince was a victim of school bullying. In fact the bullying was so intense that she took her own life. It devastated not just the community but the nation, yet when a survey was conducted at the South Haley High school, parents did not seem as concerned.
Almost 30 percent of teens that is over 5.7 million youth are bullied each year though it is difficult to get formal statistics because bullying is so under reported.
A survey completed by respondents to the Strategic Planning Initiative for Families and Youth (SPIFFY) was given to South Hadley parents at an open house and despite a suicide and attempted suicides by children , bullying did not rank high as a concern.
In a survey done in 2005, over 30% of the students complained about bullying. In addition, 16.4 percent of students seriously considered attempting suicide, while 14.6 percent reported attempting suicide. Despite the suicide, and attempted suicides and threats of bullying, parents simply did not find bullying a big problem.
The small survey of just 380 parents was more concerned about alcohol, drug use and Internet behavior. Superintendent Gus Sayer who said he never heard of SPIFFY stated “I think it showed despite all the perception of bullying the biggest concern was drug and alcohol abuse.”
Freshman Phoebe Prince was not a trouble maker and was quite friendly. Her father Mitch Bouillard says his daughter was bullied on and off quite a bit and her mother complained twice to school officials. Yet nothing was done to stop the non-stop bullying.
Many of the parents at South Haley High might not see bullying as a major concern, but the district attorney does and has put felony charges against six of the teens, two boys and four girls.
According to USA Today, “The new bullies are difficult to spot because they are attractive, athletic and academically accomplished.” Bullying is different then it was decades ago. Technology has made bullying much easier.
Sadly, despite the tragic story of Phoebe Prince many parents don’t see bullying as a major concern, however, her family and friends remain very concerned.