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Bullying Case Warrants Jail Time, Says South Hadley Parent

BOSTON — Legal analysts say it may be a first: Nine students face criminal charges for their involvement in the bullying of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old student at South Hadley High School who committed suicide on Jan. 14.

The charges, announced Monday by Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, range from stalking to harassment.

But the parent of another alleged bullying victim at the school says those charges don’t go far enough, nor will they stop the peer harassment he says has continued at South Hadley High after Prince’s death.

“I was quite surprised,” said Mitch Broulliard in an interview with Here & Now‘s Robin Young.  “I think (the charges) could have been handed down a little heavier.”

Broulliard says his daughter became a target of ongoing bullying when she spoke up after Prince’s death. “In retaliation for that she was assaulted both verbally and physically,” he said. “She was pushed into a locker and repeatedly hit.”

His daughter continues to fear retribution from other bullies, Broulliard says. “The concern is still there, so the charges that were handed down to these kids need to be firm,” he said. “We need to make a statement at this point that we’re not going to tolerate what’s going on.”

If convicted on certain charges, some of the alleged bullies could face jail time. Some critics say that is harsh punishment for behavior that goes on in many high schools.

But Broulliard disagrees.

“For the years of abuse that they’ve handed out, and for the severity of what’s gone on so far, I think a little bit of jail time is warranted,” Broulliard said. “They need to understand that these actions are well above and beyond what society will accept at this point.”

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  • rachel rodman

    I am very disappointed that the school educators and teachers are not being disciplined in some manner. I keep thinking that if poor Phoebe had been found with an ibuprofen her mother would have been notified, but the relentless bullying she endured went unreported to her mother, how can anyone think this makes sense?

  • mel

    I agree. The names of the negligent school officials should be known.

  • Brian

    Bullying goes on at EVERY school in America. I was bullied, it’s kids being kids. 99.9% of people that are bullied can handle it. I believe that this girl, much like MySpace incident, would have done this at some point. I believe they had to have had other issues and this was just one of many potential events that could have driven them down this path.

  • Donna Magee

    I know bullying has gone on for years in school. I was one of those being bullied when I was in school and that was long ago in the “dark ages”. Just because it has been going on for so long does NOT make it right. Now it is even worse because of facebook and twitter and texting. It needs to be stopped here and now. Saying it is just “kids being kids” does not cut it! If you have not been on the receiving end of bullying you do not know what kind of hell it can make your life during a time you are trying to learn and grow!

  • George

    This story is near and fear to me, as I was arcrely bullied at school, also. The fact that I do not have suicidal tendencies does not make it ok. The fact that it is normal behavior, according to some, does not make it ok. Thank God I did have a group of solid friends in my neighborhood to fall back on, phoebe, as a recent immigrant, likely did not.

    The suffering that bullying causes leaves life-long emotional and psychological scars. I suppose that if the only thing that matters is whether it kills is or not, then let the bullying continue because, get, the death rate is pretty low.

  • Debbie Joe

    My daughter has verbally bullied on and off for about 1-1/2 years. About 2 months ago, there were several girls at her lunch table that started to verbally abuse her. She said she couldn’t move to another table because other kids also are mean to her. Last week she started to get really depressed and this past weekend was really bad so I called her doctor and he prescribed Lexapro. The school has done absolutely nothing to the girls that have bullied her all of this time. I have repeatedly gone to the principal and he will not discipline all of the girls. Since her major depression started this past weekend, she is not going back to school until April 1st. I hope that they have had talks with all of these girls. If they continue to bully her with no help from the school, I am going to take it one step further and contact the media and newspaper…I need someone to listen to our plight.

  • Brian J

    “If convicted on certain charges, some of the alleged bullies could face jail time. Some critics say that is harsh punishment for behavior that goes on in many high schools.” I sometimes exceed the speed limit, as do many drivers. If I happen to speed by a policeman, I can try to say everyone does it, but will still end up getting a ticket. The bullys engaged in criminal harassment, and should be charged accordingly. Out of curiosity, since the victim was called an “Irish slut” for having sexual relations, why weren’t the two boys called sluts as well? This is the 21st century, and women are held to the same standard as men.

  • Russ

    I don’t know if this suggestion will help, but it was certainly effective in our household. About 15 years ago, my son was a freshman at an inner-city vocational high school. He very quickly saw the need to be able to defend himself as part of his “survival package” there. At first I was very reluctant to allow him to take self-defense classes, as I was concerned that he might end up in trouble for fighting or for becoming a bully himself. I soon realized this was not the case. Learning how to defend himself gave him the self confidence he needed to concentrate on the more important things in school and in his life. As he has gotten older he has also related stories to me on how he has stood up for people who cannot defend themselves. He has, at times, been a real champion for the underdog. It has also encouraged him to maintain a high level of physical fitness and to stay healthy and off any types of abusive substances. He’s no angel, but I am certainly proud to call him my son. I realize every situation is different, and I know this is not a “one size fits all” solution, but it may help for some.

  • D Boover

    How are we ever going to be credible defenders of the bullied when we continue to be the bullies, not only in our communities but also around the world. These kids are not learning this type of behavior in a vacuum. Let’s look at how we treat each other in our families. Look at the news every night. Don’t forget politics and also the huge profits producers make from watching people torment each other in television programming. Worse than anything though, is that in the last 8 years, we, as a country allowed torture to be an acceptable interrogation policy.
    We could all probably grow from some amount of sensitivity training, and especially education on how to be more human in a global environment.

  • JDB

    I really doubt that these kids got the idea of bullying from the nightly news. In fact, I’d be surprised if they even knew who the president is right now. And I’d bet my paycheck that they haven’t even heard of Iraq or Afghanistan. They are too self absorbed to know that there is a world around them. They learned this technique from their parents. When you have the parents of the other students frightened to speak out for fear of retribution, there’s a problem in the community.

  • Ales

    D Boover,I agree with all that you’ve said except for the part where you said its shameful that the U.S. used torture for interrogations. Just remember that those interrogations are the reason why we’ve been safe since 9-11. The purpose of the “torturing” of one individual is to gain information on the other 12 dangerous criminals/ terrorist and their plots,(how else do you propose we get info on these king of barbaric people?).If that is what is takes to catch the bastards, then so be it. You cannot compare bullying to these interrogations. Bullies are not bullying for the good of their school or to keep their friends and family SAFE. The victim of a bully is only a victim, who has done nothing wrong to anyone to deserve being treated this way. These “bullies” should be put in jail with real criminals that will bully them around for a little while, so they can grow up and realize that its not very COOL to be harassed and feel dehumanized.

  • george curran

    The young women and men who are facing charges are deserving of all that falls upon them. The simple fact is that they had choices and they made the wrong ones. Poor Phoebe did not have a choice as to whether or not she would be bullied. However, the ones who tormented her had the choice of leaving Phoebe alone. It is that simple. They could have shunned her, totally ignored her, acted as if she did not exist and that would have been extremely cruel treatment at that age. But they did not do that, they chose to act instead. Actions have consequences, and these young men and women need to learn that. They do not get to walk away from this; nor do they get to write a college entrance essay as to how this experience changed their life for the better. Their actions had painful life changing consequences for Phoebe’s family; therefore, it is only right that these young men and women also face their own painful life changing consequences.

  • http://www.wbur.org Dave

    These and all bullies should be held responsible for the choice they make. The fight will go on to legislate laws to protect targets of Bullying. Bullying starts in elementry school, advances into high school. Then if we do not deal with the Bully it moves into Workplace bullying, Harrasment, Mobbing, Gas Lighting and violence. Please, start a group in your town or city to fight for your right to have a safe place for your children to learn and live and play safely. Bullying at all levels can be stopped only if we group together, speak out and Campain to STOP BULLYING!!! It Can be Stopped!! Confront the Bully head on!!!

  • Carol Wilson

    The parent who sent his son to martial arts classes to learn to defend himself was right on. However, not all parents can afford classes~and they shouldn’t have to. Teachers and principals should maintain disciplain from the first day of first grade. Parents who disagree should be ignored. Schools are places of learning and it is a privilege to learn. Children who fail to respond to school rules should be thrown out of school and sent for psychological evaluation and counciling until they are ready to rteturn. School is the first job a child has. Literally, he or she is learning to work. People who don’t know how to apply themselves to a job, (including teachers who can’t keep order), are ruining this country.

  • Bettye Mondy

    All of the views I have read are right on. It is so amazing that when kids are found with medications, they parents are notified but when a child is bullied it is only “kids being kids?” I hope that they have taught their kids the difference and this does not happen to theirs. They should have to face the law too along with those heathens that were responsible. This is such a shame.

  • D Boover

    Ales,
    I hope that you are never the victim of this convoluted justification for torture. Torture and bullying are the same duck. It is never justifiable to torture or bully anyone for any reason. It is indeed a slippery slope when you begin to justify either. We really need to stop propagandizing.

  • Ela

    im 13 and being bullied. i think schools should do somthing againse bullying it really hurts being bullied. Ive never been bullied in my life and thought I would never get bullied. but i guess i was wrong.

  • http://terracommunitycollage glenna dawson

    I am being harassed at school because I am an older woman giing back to be retrained as a job retraining for my job leaving and closing forever. I am 54years old and egnore them but I heard there is no laws to stop the problem herein ohio. where are the laws,intervention and justice?

  • http://terracommunitycollage glenna dawson

    because I am an older woman going back to be retrained as my job leaving and closing forever. I am 54years old and egnore bullies but I heard there are no laws to stop the problem herein ohio. where are the laws,intervention and justice?

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