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.”