In the recent case of the South Hadley teen who allegedly was tormented by mean girls at her school, bullying had grave consequences. According to media reports, this 15 year old girl was the target of not one, but many girls who apparently made it their job to destroy this young girl’s spirit. All the ridicule and disgusting comments must have been too much to take. The death of Phoebe Prince shows how constant ridicule and dissing can be painful to the extent that a person would take their own life, and how some girls have dark sides, lack of morals, and apparently no concern for the feelings of others. What is also troubling is that it appears that Phoebe didn’t have much support (if any) to dismiss all of the nasty accusations and virtual badmouthing she fell victim to.
Despite what anyone may think, bullying is very common. Girls often become jealous of others for dating someone that they are interested in. For instance, the “mean girls” in this case may have wanted to be with Phoebe’s boyfriend, and were mad that he was interested in her and not them. I definitely think that the girls who tormented her are in the wrong. Phoebe cannot be blamed for being beautiful, or for dating a senior. The mean girls were jealous, but it should not have lead them to trash-talking Phoebe. Dating one guy is not being “a slut”, and being in a relationship is perfectly normal.
Teens don’t usually tell people that they are being bullied because they are afraid of being mocked. Also, teens may not say anything because once the bullies are reprimanded, the situation can get worse because they can take revenge on the person for snitching. However, I also think that parents need to learn how to read between the lines. If a child really doesn’t want to go to school or comes home sad from school, then something serious is probably going on and they need someone to talk with.
In this case, I feel that the school is also responsible, because they knew what was going on, and the mean girls did not receive any punishment. This gives the means girls the sense of being “untouchable” and powerful, which allows them to keep bullying others. This also discourages others from speaking up. If the death of a girl did not stop the bullies, what good would it do for them to speak up?
I also feel like the belief that “Snitches get Stitches” is prevalent among teens. Teens do not like to be known as a “snitch”, so often times they keep things to themselves. For instance, other girls and bystanders at South Hadley High may not have said anything because they didn’t want the mean girls to turn around and bully them, or simply because they did not want to be seen as “snitches”. Regardless, I still think that the students and teachers who observed these mean girls had a responsibility to put a stop to it. Maybe Phoebe’s death could have been prevented. Perhaps schools can come up with a way in which teens can report bullies anonymously. One-on-one conversations with a guidance counselor or other adult may not be effective, because teens feel like their identity may be revealed. A system in which teens can report bullies confidentially would conceal and protect their identity.
I feel that being bullied definitely has negative effects, because young girls care a lot about what their peers think of them. This is especially true if it what is said about them turns into a rumor. Then one girl’s opinion becomes the school’s opinion. Your self-esteem can be destroyed if you are repeatedly attacked with negative comments. The internet and social networking sites allow rumors to spread lightening fast. You might begin to believe all the horrible things that people say about you and feel that you are to blame.
I also think that different people handle things differently. Ideally, you are only bullied for as long as you allow the bullies to have the power over you. Standing up for yourself can only help. Bullies usually attack people who are quiet and won’t react. Showing the bullies that you have the ability to speak up and defend yourself can make them stop, but I also realize that you need the support of a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher, or guidance counselor. Friends can help too. My point is that bullies need to be stopped, through whatever measure it takes.