Nowhere to turn

Christopher Anselmo is a guest blogger for Hold On, It’s Not Over. Chris is a PAL staff member and loves to write.

The tragic circumstances of Phoebe Prince’s suicide continue to unravel by the day. Rarely have the details of one particular case of bullying and suicide been in the public spotlight like Phoebe’s. Lisa and I have discussed the story on more than one occasion, and are shocked by its depravity, which has caught the attention of the entire nation.

The details that have emerged regarding the nature of the harassment that Phoebe had to endure on a daily basis are nothing short of disgusting. Her life was made a living hell by a group of teens that would stop at nothing to make sure that she was as miserable as possible during her every waking moment. Even worse, her school, which should have intervened and dealt with the situation promptly, turned the other cheek in her darkest hour, denying her the lifeline she desperately needed.

Depression stemming from incessant bullying is an aspect of children’s mental health that is imperative to address. Hopefully, Phoebe’s story can be an example for other schools to evaluate how they handle such situations, and maybe can serve as a reminder to those that harass others the impact of their words. There is no telling how many Phoebe Prince’s there are throughout the state – kids who are being subject to unrelenting taunts and humiliation, with seemingly nowhere to turn. Kids who feel that taking their own life is the only way to end the pain.

If there is anything positive that can come out of this tragedy, it is hopefully a heightened sense of awareness about the damaging power that bullying can have on children in their formative years. In this day and age with the prevalence of technology in society, along with the ability to connect with more people in more ways faster than ever before, the ability to harass and assassinate one’s character and dignity is has never been easier.

If it takes one child’s suicide to potentially change policies and attitudes that end up saving the lives of many other children, that would be the best possible outcome. That being said, every time I read an article about Phoebe, the picture of her smiling usually accompanies it. I can’t help but wonder if that was the last time she ever was able to truly smile.

For even though she may indeed help save the lives of others, her death is one too many.

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3 thoughts on “Nowhere to turn

  1. The effects, I believe are already being felt. My youngest has been dealing with a bully for almost 4 years. Not long after Phoebe’s story hit the news, my child’s bully acted up again. Shortening this story; the bully was disciplined and removed from all of my child’s classes at my request. After dealing with this for years I can say, that was just too easy. Usually, they would listen and nothing would happen. Why did it take a life to wake up to the irreparable harm that is caused by bullying? I know that my daughter is always looking over her shoulder and the experience will never leave her.

  2. Thank you Chris for the blog. We are seeing huge situations for this with families across the state. In the last month I have heard of over 7 families whom are struggling with bullies and have brought concerns directly to the schools and nothing is being done.
    One family in Leominster has taken their child out of public school after addressing this with all staff and nothing being done. Letters have been written, this mom is upset, scared and more importantly worried about her own child healing from this and all the others that have no voice. She was ignored by the schools.

    Second family has been struggling with a school who would rather “lock” up the kid who is acting out because of the ongoing pain of bullying in the school. I worry that the acting out will lead to something more tragic.

    Why don’t schools work on social skills with kids? and help the kid that is bullying- there is an obvious challenge for that kid too.


  3. This is such a sad a serious situation. Bulling happens on a daily basis at school. The mentality of the administrators, teachers and support staff needs to change. So many times you hear it is just typical behavior of developing teens. That is so wrong. Social skills and communication skills need to be something that is taught from day one of school. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Early intervention has been shown time and time again to be a cost saver many different areas. Why not invest a small amount early on with an effective program and changing of staff mentalitys for the ultimate savings, a child’s life! What is more precious!

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