Nine Massachusetts teenagers face charges for bullying a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide. Two boys are accused of statutory rape; a group of Mean Girls are charged with stalking, criminal harassment and violating the victim’s civil rights.
Insults and threats followed 15-year-old Phoebe Prince almost from her first day at South Hadley High School, targeting the Irish immigrant in the halls, library and in vicious cell phone text messages.
Phoebe, ostracized for having a brief relationship with a popular boy, reached her breaking point and hanged herself after one particularly hellish day in January — a day that, according to officials, included being hounded with slurs and pelted with a beverage container as she walked home from school.
Phoebe’s mother had complained to school officials about the bullying to no avail.
In Massachusetts, public anger was turning from the Mean Girls — so mean they left vicious comments on Phoebe’s Facebook memorial page — to the teachers who repeatedly failed to protect Phoebe, but were not charged criminally.
District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel said Phoebe’s persecution was “common knowledge” at the school, and even witnessed by teachers, who said nothing.
South Hadley parents have formed an anti-bullying group. Massachusetts is considering an anti-bullying law.