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9 MA Cyberbullies Indicted For Causing Suicide

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the this-is-why-you-don't-listen-to-the-internet dept.

Crime 709

Raul654 writes "Massachusetts teenager Phoebe Prince committed suicide on January 14. After her death, it was revealed that she had been the target of cyberbullying for months (and that her teachers were aware of it and did nothing). Today, nine of her classmates were indicted on charges including harassment, stalking, civil rights violations, and statutory rape. Prince's suicide echoes the earlier case of Megan Meier, who committed suicide after being cyberbullied by a classmate's mother."

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709 comments

Your rights OFFLINE! (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663180)

This has nothing to do with Facebook, Flicker, FourSquare, Twitter, or any other Web 2.0 website. This happened at school, during school hours, and with the school having knowledge that that something was going on. This is a first round of charges, there could be more including some of the adults who could have taken action. Dating a senior football player and being the "new girl" led to her being teased and hated... leading to violence, leading to a situation where she saw no way out. This should have been cut off with detentions and suspensions long before it got this far.

I'm pretty sure the lawyers in this case are going to pull all the Web 2.0 content created by the students involved. If they go down this path and find something that can be treated as a confession, then it's "News for nerds." or "Stuff that matters." Until we see that, it's more like the 6pm news here in the Boston area.

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (-1, Offtopic)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663212)

Hey mod, you missed. The Offtopic violation is by the article, not me.

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663368)

The article is on topic. This incident is a follow up to the Lori Drew case that was previous covered on Slashdot. The slope has been greased up and we're sliding. Everything us liberty minded folks warned would happen as a result of the precedent set by that case is indeed happening.

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (5, Informative)

tarun713 (782737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663324)

FTA: "According to students, Phoebe was called 'Irish slut' and 'whore' on Twitter, Craigslist, Facebook and Formspring."

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (5, Insightful)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663478)

It does highlight something that really worries me about this case. As a kid I copped a bit of bullying myself, at least till I got big enough to fight back, but I came to the conclusion that kids are, well, shitheads, and that most hopefully grow out of it.

Whats disturbing, is that the adults did nothing to protect this poor girl when it should have been immediately obvious she was being victimized. Sometimes when your being bullied, simply having an older kid or adult take your side can be immensely comforting.

When I was around 25 I used to catch a public bus to work, and every morning this scruffy young kid would be on the bus being teased and taunted till I decided to intervene, picked up one of his tormentors and physically launched him off the bus then let the kid sit next to me from that point on. I told the bullies that I would hunt down and beat senselessly any kid that bullied my new little mate, and within a couple of weeks the kid stopped being bullied. I gave the kid a bit of friendship and kind of explained how to work on his goofy demeanor, and within a year he was a reasonably popular kid himself.

All it takes is someone to care about these kids. To give a damn about them. Show some genuine concern for these kids, and they'll shine. They always do

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (5, Insightful)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663546)

What surprises me is that you weren't arrested for assault.

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (4, Insightful)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663564)

Try that now and you're more likely to get arrested for assault or child abuse... or shot.

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (4, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663638)

Whats disturbing, is that the adults did nothing to protect this poor girl when it should have been immediately obvious she was being victimized. Sometimes when your being bullied, simply having an older kid or adult take your side can be immensely comforting.

When I was a kid, nothing disillusioned me about authority figures more than the misguided attempts of school administrators to interfere when I was being bullied. Keep in mind that I went to great lengths to avoid being bullied (sometimes by groups of kids) and sometimes this meant breaking school rules (like going through a hole in the fence around the school during lunch when I was being chased). The school administrators came out against me all too often. Once one principle even brought out boxing gloves and told us we had better fight it out with gloves on.

Looking back at it, I can see where the administrators were coming from but that doesn't make them any less wrong. I don't even really appreciate the attempts by some teachers to bribe one of the worst of the bullies with candy bars (so that he wouldn't bully me).

The further sad fact is that nobody can address bullying effectively when it happens, say, when the kid is walking home from school. So what are you gonna do? I did well because I had parents who were willing to discuss the matter with me and provide proper role models. But generally they didn't go to the teachers or administrators about the problems, which was a good thing given how bad of a mess the school officials generally made of things when they got involved.

The solution here is parenting. And while I find the lack of action by school officials disturbing, I wonder if they would have made things worse by getting involved. In reality they probably should have gotten in touch with the girl's parents proactively and discussed the situation.

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663698)

Good for you. We need more responsible citizens like you.

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663726)

...because not being a teacher you had no stake in the school at a whole. Teachers at my school would not act against bullies because they appreciated their role in simplifying the social environment at the school. I had ongoing problems with a student who repeatedly had a go at me at school. It was only when he tried it at the local swimming pool that anything was done and that was by the staff at the pool who told him to GTFO or else. At the pool the staff are free to deal with a simple situation. At the school the bully is likely to be the teachers best friend among the students.

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (-1, Troll)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663548)

"I'm pretty sure the lawyers in this case are going to pull all the Web 2.0 content created by the students involved. If they go down this path and find something that can be treated as a confession, then it's "News for nerds." or "Stuff that matters." Until we see that, it's more like the 6pm news here in the Boston area."

That's pretty sad you don't even have the basic reading skills of a third grader, otherwise you'd have seen several mentions CLEARLY in the article concerning online harassment.

Wonder if you voted Republican, with the kind of spin you're trying to put on this?

You're making me want to kill myself! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663608)

or any other Web 2.0 website.

Seeing people here on Slashdot using marketing hyperbole buzzwords makes me want to commit suicide.

Expect a call from my wife's lawyer when I'm gone!

Re:Your rights OFFLINE! (5, Insightful)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663614)

One the prime reasons that cyber bullying is of particular focus now is that you simply can't escape it. The old style 'give me your lunch money' bully had very little presence at home. If said bully did try to take it home, it was generally in ways that annoyed the parents just as much as the kid (crank calls and the like), which often lead to more action on their part. Now, cyber bullying allows them to hit you even at home, and in ways that can often go unnoticed by the parents, not only of the victim, but of the bully's parents. Not sure what we can do about it, but I wouldn't equate this to a typical school yard bullying situation.

Cyberbullies? (5, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663200)

Reading the article, you can't really pigeonhole this as a cyberbullying incident -- it seems way more accurate to call this an instance of *comprehensive* asshole behavior. I mean, when I was a kid the bullies knew how to operate the phone, but nobody called that telebullying.

Don't get me wrong, this is distressing stuff, but reading between the lines it seems awfully simplistic to try and just pass this entire affair off as being a simple result of these kids using the internets in order to torment this girl into killing herself. Really, the most disturbing thing to me in the article is the lack of remorse these girls displayed after the fact. I understand that high school is messed up, but who the hell makes jerk comments on a memorial page? That seems pretty damn sociopathic even by the standards of high school.

Re:Cyberbullies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663280)

Coincidentally, the fortune cookie at the bottom of the page when I read this is quite an appropriate response to your comment:

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

Re:Cyberbullies? (4, Informative)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663282)

This was not cyberbullying, although it may have involved it. These teenagers raped that girl, physically assaulted her in broad daylight with school teachers around and no one did anything.

Re:Cyberbullies? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663342)

The two guys, 17 and 18, were charged with statutory rape.

Not to split hairs, but that's a pretty significant difference -- you go to any high school in America and you'll find people having sex with folks two years older than they are. Assuming the sex was otherwise consensual, it sucks that these guys are getting charged with such a serious crime in what amounts to a prosecutorial attempt to close the barn door after the cows are out.

Re:Cyberbullies? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663402)

Assuming the sex was otherwise consensual, it sucks that these guys are getting charged with such a serious crime in what amounts to a prosecutorial attempt to close the barn door after the cows are out.

Fortunately if they didn't brag about having sex with her, it's unlikely they'll be convicted; she can't testify against them and they can't be required to testify against themselves.

Unfortunately, they're teenaged boys, so....

Re:Cyberbullies? (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663620)

As long as he was bragging to students (and not cops), isn't this inadmissible hearsay?

Re:Cyberbullies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663734)

I'd assume that it would fall under the hearsay exemption Statement against interests.

Re:Cyberbullies? (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663408)

Rules change when you turn 18. The 17 year old though should be different. Unless the age of consent is 16 by law there, the 17 year old should walk away all charges dropped. If he did force her into it. Then he is a rapist and should be charged. The age of consent matters.

The 18 year old might be screwed (pun intended). If they have the four years of age rule he might be OK, if not he is done.

Re:Cyberbullies? (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663642)

The age of consent in MA is 18. Phoebe Prince was 15. This [state.ma.us] seems to be the relevant law.

Re:Cyberbullies? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663712)

Age of consent is 18? Did you even read the first line of the law?

It's 16.

But since Phoebe was 15, they're both screwed.

--
BMO

Re:Cyberbullies? (0, Troll)

shermo (1284310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663434)

Good news everyone. We've not only lost the life of one young person, we now get to destroy the lives of two more!

It wouldn't surprise me if the guys involved fucked her and then had nothing else to do with her and weren't involved in the bullying. That's not the nicest thing to do, but it's hardly strange behaviour for teenage guys.

Re:Cyberbullies? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663532)

Good news everyone. We've not only lost the life of one young person, we now get to destroy the lives of two more!

Are you a professional douche?

Re:Cyberbullies? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663696)

And while it might not be legal, 12 of your peers may still railroad you for it. Jury nullification works both ways.

Re:Cyberbullies? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663294)

While "cyberbullying" helps remove any responsibility for comments,as often seen on slashdot, and as seen on the memorial page, this does appear to be a full on asshole behavior. I do hope they throw the book at them, and at the school as well.

Re:Cyberbullies? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663466)

It's because it's easier to blame outside entities like technology, rather than take responsibility for your actions, or more importantly for your child's actions. If there's anyone that should be blamed (other than the kids who did the bullying), it's their parents for failing to instill any kind of morality or decency. The parents are, in internet terms, epic fail.

Re:Cyberbullies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663484)

who the hell makes jerk comments on a memorial page? That seems pretty damn sociopathic even by the standards of high school.

I would call them immature not sociopathic. It's just kids drawing attention to themselves, without understanding what they are doing.
I hate the "RIP" comment (using an abbreviation as a final goodbye seems insane to me), often used by adults.
If you ask me memorials do not belong on the internet.

Re:Cyberbullies? (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663538)

Really, the most disturbing thing to me in the article is the lack of remorse these girls displayed after the fact. I understand that high school is messed up, but who the hell makes jerk comments on a memorial page? That seems pretty damn sociopathic even by the standards of high school.

Kids these days are jaded as can be. I can't say that I know the cause of it, but I do know that each successive class following mine (graduated from college 2 years ago) that went through my high school was more and more jaded. I've heard a lot of folk say that it comes from an over exposure to, 'startling/shocking,' content via the internet and TV and such. I've heard a lot of folks attribute it to poor parenting. I've heard even more folks attribute it to drugs and loud music and the like.

I can't say that I agree with any of that, but one thing I do notice is that younger kids these days can be heartless, cutthroat, brutal, and downright apathetic. Maybe it comes from the fact that kids have fewer venues through which to meaningfully express their feelings and frustrations? If a kid writes a harsh poem or letter at school, he gets suspended/punished for expressing himself. If a kid gets bullied, he can't fight back without all hell being raised over violence at school. As a result, maybe, a lot of kids have just learned to bottle stuff up inside, glaze themselves over with a thick shell of, "I don't give a damn," and, thus, are capable of extraordinary acts of ruthlessness.

I agree with you that the lack of remorse displayed by the bullies is nauseating. I wouldn't claim that all kids are capable of such jacked up nonsense. However, I think kids may be getting more cynical, bitter, and just plain dark at younger ages these days. Then again, maybe I am just getting older.

Re:Cyberbullies? (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663560)

Cyber bullying was part of it, as it is going to be in any contemporary case of chronic widespread personal assault by a group of organized criminals. One thing that is has not changed is that the authorities cannot do anything if the victim does not want to press charges, and the victim is not going to press charges if they feel like they themselves are going to be persecuted. This is especially the case in which an unpopular high school girl has had sex with popular boys. She will be told that she was delusional, no popular boy would have sex with her. Furthermore, since a underage rape victim is going to undergo the same humiliation common in the past with any single woman, few victims are going to come forward. The male teen age criminal is going to be considered a hero, while the girl is going to be considered a slut.

The other unfortunate thing is that parent of so-called popular kids think that this kind of behavior is acceptable. Equally unfortunate is that unpopular kids do not feel empowered to do something to solve the mean-kid problem, up to talking to the ones parents. Tell them what is happening, and ask for help. Since their is a cyber element, that is documentation. Show it, report it. If administration want to protect the popular kids, escalate. For instance, I recall in elementary there were a couple kids who harassed everyone, the stupid 5th grade teacher could not believe that these christians could do this. By the end of the year it became obvious that these kids were playing her. This is almost a similar simplistic case in which adults clearly have documentation, but, clearly, the parents of the criminals refuse to do anything about it. Parent should have access to their kids communications, and failure to monitor and stop criminal activity makes them accomplices.

Kids do need to figure out how to interact with peers. However, when we as adults are victims of a crime, we do not usually solve the problems ourselves. We call in help. We do need to teach our kids to the same, and when there is documentation like a twitter message, to show in, and force adults to act on it. This is not snitching, this is civilized behavior. We see this with the current crop of right wing wackos. A video on you tube threatening and elected official has landed someone in jail. Kids need to learn this lesson as well, before they actual take the it to the level of physical assault.

Throw the book at them and the school. (5, Insightful)

Calibax (151875) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663216)

The daughter of a neighbor experienced a similar problem some time ago. Fortunately a vice-principal at the school did not ignore the reports from teachers and took disciplinary action against the people involved.

The harassment was vicious, nasty and designed to humiliate and hurt. I understand that the bullies were unrepentant - they felt they had a "right" to hurt someone who didn't kowtow to them.

I am thankful that these sorts of issues were pretty much unknown when I went to school. I think I'll home-school my kids....

Re:Throw the book at them and the school. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663308)

I think I'll home-school my kids....

Incidents at these levels are fairly isolated, but low level bullying is a part of life. Part of the reason to go to school is to learn how to deal with the idiots you will always have around you. It doesn't end with school, they exist in all areas of society, including the workplace. Office politics can be just a more cerebral version of the bullying.

Re:Throw the book at them and the school. (2, Informative)

Meshach (578918) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663310)

I am thankful that these sorts of issues were pretty much unknown when I went to school. I think I'll home-school my kids....

It is all relative. More then anything it depends on the specific area that you live in and the actual teachers and administration (Principal, VP...) that are in that school. The real big change is that we all hear about the really bad cases whereas before we would not have heard if it was not in out local school.

This is a terrible situation but sometimes it feels like observers are too sensationalistic [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Throw the book at them and the school. (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663542)

Bullshit they didn't go on when you were a kid. They sure as hell did when I was growing up. It's been going on since the invention of school. It's been going on since long before then. What's happening now is that society is less tolerant of it and has better methods of communication so you hear more about it. People haven't changed, there's always been intolerant assholes and if you have a large number of small enforced groupings like a school there will always be someone who's low man on the otem poll. Some of them will be unstable enough to kill themselves.

What you can do as a parent- watch your kids. If they're having trouble, figure out how serious it is. Force the school to take action if it gets bad. If it gets really bad, transfer your kid to another school/district.

Re:Throw the book at them and the school. (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663694)

agreed. to suggest this kind of thing never used to happen is to suggest humans previously lacked a social pecking order.

What makes the problem greater these days is that attacking someone through a website lacks the human feed back. it doesn't feel like a person you attacking it's a faceless computer. a recent study of road rage showed the reason people get so angry at other people on the road is because their anger is directed at a car not a person. when the people driving could see the other persons face, they were much more forgiving. we look at the other person's face for emotional reactions, when we can't see that we feel ok with saying stuff we'd NEVER say to another persons face.

the scary thing about it is this is the same reason psychopaths are able to violently murder people and feel nothing. the inability to empathize.

Re:Throw the book at them and the school. (0, Troll)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663600)

I am thankful that these sorts of issues were pretty much unknown when I went to school.

Bullcrap.

Three factors here:

1) The news was much more local and much less national, it certainly wasn't completely soundbyte-based and on 4-5 channels 24/7. There are a lot of things you hear about now that you'd have never heard of pre-CNN.

2) Until fairly recently, suicide carried a huge stigma in American society. No parent would admit that their kid committed suicide, and the press wouldn't cover it (for fear that it would cause copycat suicides).

3) Nostalgia is a mind-disease. If you're looking back at the past fondly, most likely, your brain is deluding you. In reality, the past sucked ass.

Re:Throw the book at them and the school. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663636)

Had a similar instance will bullying with my son. It was all offline but during school and on the bus. Simple stuff, knocking his glasses off, taking his mp3 player, poking him in various places blah blah. When I spoke to the school about it, I was told there was nothing they could do other than mention it to the bus driver and possibly say something to the kids. Months later it was still going on. At my next meeting with the school I basically told them that this has gone on WAY too long and I instructed my son to fight back and sucker punch someone in the face if he had too not time someone takes something of his. At that point the principal stated that he would have to file a report about my intending to promote violence and if my son did "start" a fight, he would be expelled from school.

Long story short, he never had to resort to violence which was our real goal, my son was able to avoid being a target, and the jackass kids eventually grew out of it.

Don't rely on the school for help or for protection and don't think they are going to be the parent for you. There are a limitless amount of kids that bully in school, out of school, online, at the playground etc.., you CAN NOT stop them all, it will happen and is a fact of life. Take the responsibility as a parent and talk to your kids and find out what is bothering them and why and help them through it. Bullying is nothing new. IMHO, I think not giving small kids awards for winning and complimenting all kids all of the time because you don't want to offend one is fine for parents in a controlled environment and some what good for kids self esteem but kids do NOT treat other kids the same way outside of the parent controlled bubble. You are setting them up to fail but not letting them fail early on. Bring back dodgeball and "pick up" games at gym class and only give kids stars that deserve it. If you want to give every kid a star, find out what some kids are good at that others are not and give the stars are required. The kid who sucks at dodgeball might be good at math.

Newsflash: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663230)

The world has some assholes in it. They are mean to people for no good reason.

Altho for some reason we put up with them and work around them instead of throwing them down a deep dark hole and moving on.

bullying not entirely enigmatic (5, Interesting)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663412)

People acting like assholes happens for actual reasons. Don't wave away the effort of figuring it out. That will just make you less able to cope.

Want insight? Here's a great starter: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/big-bad-bully [psychologytoday.com]

it's more than just cyberbullying (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663232)

Apparently, this poor girl was also raped.

Re:it's more than just cyberbullying (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663352)

Apparently, this poor girl was also raped.

No, statutory rape (that is, usually-consensual sex with someone who it isn't legal to have sex with). And nothing in TFA suggests that the two charged with statutory rape had anything to do with the bullying (cyber or otherwise); they aren't charged with the other stuff.

Re:it's more than just cyberbullying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663362)

Yes, she was raped online. No, I believe what actually happened was that she had sex with a boy more than N year old. That's why it's "statutory rape" instead of just "rape". It's rape, only as defined by statute.

dom

Re:it's more than just cyberbullying (1)

VGR (467274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663416)

Reading the article more closely, one can see that it was "statutory rape." Personally I'm having trouble understanding how a 17-year-old can commit statutory rape against a 15-year-old. I could have sworn such laws explicitly allow sex between any two people within two years of age.

I'm guessing that's the only charge they could muster against the male participants. All of the charges, against both the male and female students, seem pretty weak.

ask marcus dixon about over the top rape charges a (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663552)

ask Marcus Dixon about over the top rape charges.

Re:it's more than just cyberbullying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663646)

It depends on the state; some have two- or four-year exceptions, some don't, and some have exceptions that only apply when you're under 18 so 17 and 15 is OK but not 18 and 17.

In this case, barring further evidence, it's all based on the archaic misogynistic concept that the boys corrupted her with sex when she needed to be protected from herself, and that self-loathing from being impure contributed to her death.

Re:it's more than just cyberbullying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663728)

Depends on the state laws. In Florida, you can have sex with a 16 or 17 year old if you are under 24, but no one can legally have sex with a 15 year old or younger. So they could certainly be charged under Florida law. I'm guessing MA is similar.

Re:it's more than just cyberbullying (1)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663422)

You are mis-informed. She apparently had consentual sex with a 17 and/or 18 year old while she was 15. The charge is statutory rape.

Re:it's more than just cyberbullying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663438)

No. "The two males, 17 and 18, are charged with statutory rape."
That means it was consensual sex with fellow high-school students. That's quite different from saying she was raped.

Her teachers were aware of it and did nothing... (5, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663256)

This has been the teacher and administrator MO since I was in school in the 60s. Actually it's worse than that. The teacher/administrator just wants the problem to go away so they tend to persecute and isolate the *victim* rather than the perpetrator (Johny gets bullied by a group of 5 kids on the playground so we'll keep *Johny* inside while all the kids go out to play). This usually ostracizes the victim further by pointing him/her out as the weak odd kid.

In my experience, the most culpable individuals are spineless teachers followed by spineless administrators. Children can't really be blamed. They know no better. Adults do, or should.

Re:Her teachers were aware of it and did nothing.. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663384)

Sadly, due to the extreme power of the teacher's union, it is nearly impossible to fire a teacher, for any reason. The teacher could be openly fondling kids in the hallway, and it would be next to impossible to fire them. (instead, they get a probationary removal from the classroom, stay on school payroll, and go to a "rubber room" for a time out.)

As such, there is pretty much ZERO motivation for teachers to control their classrooms with anything other than purpetual suggestions to employ psychotropics, and to control only the most disruptive of students, and then only just enough to get by. (They'll be some other teacher's problem next year after all. No worries about them failing and staying in the same grade, afterall. "No child left behind", and all that.)

What needs to happen in order to reform the public school system, is that FIRST and Foremost, the teacher's union needs to be declawed, and or castrated. There is nothing wrong with them having a union; there is EVERYTHING wrong with that union causing a net degredation of the quality of student education, and circumventing culpability of teacher's behaviors and activities.

Secondly, parents need to sue teachers who are culpable directly, and not the school board. That way there are no special lawyers present. This helps get around the intricate network of "culpability" and "Responsibility" shell games that these organisations employ, and can effectively do what the school boards cannot (Remove a teacher perminently.)

Finally, the "No child left behind" policy needs to be redacted. Self Esteem is not nearly as important as actual performance, and it needs to not be used as a boogey man to cover up/ignore teaching incompetence/failure. (likewise with student incompetence/failure)

Re:Her teachers were aware of it and did nothing.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663440)

I used to get jabbed and punched every day one year during middle school after lunch, when we all lined up to leave the cafeteria. Teachers knew it. Administrators knew it. And when I finally fought back, I got sent to the principal's office and got detention for fighting. As if I was picking fights with a group of 4 kids all of whom were twice the size of my short, skinny frame. Like you said, this is how it's always been.

Re:Her teachers were aware of it and did nothing.. (5, Interesting)

hrimhari (1241292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663452)

You can look a little further and look for why you get spineless teachers and spineless administrators. Those with spine tend to get prosecuted when they attempt disciplinary actions by overzealous parents that most of the time won't do their part in their children's education, leaving all the burden to school.

Interesting paradox, isn't it?

Re:Her teachers were aware of it and did nothing.. (-1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663558)

To be fair, this is a high school; these 'children' are at least 14. Not so much 'little Johnny'. They do know better.

Let's be perfectly clear here. Suicide is irrational. There was de facto something else wrong with this girl.

Let me say it again: Suicide Is Irrational. Without extreme methods, you simply can't drive a mentally healthy person to suicide.

I'm not saying these kids aren't dicks, and they should have their ass handed to them under whatever law outlaws bullying, but as I see it, the only person who can possibly be responsible for a suicide can only be the sui, the self.

Re:Her teachers were aware of it and did nothing.. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663710)

Let me say it again: Suicide Is Irrational. Without extreme methods, you simply can't drive a mentally healthy person to suicide.

How many people in high school are mentally healthy?

Re:Her teachers were aware of it and did nothing.. (5, Insightful)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663658)

Some victims, seeing that nobody will bother to help them, take up weapons and go to school to kill as many as possible (the source of their suffering) until being killed by the police or committing suicide. It would be so easy to avoid this by exemplary punish the bullies, but I see that the culture of schools is to encourage the bullies ...

How many victims will be necessary before a bullie be punished for harming someone?

Re:Her teachers were aware of it and did nothing.. (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663732)

Yep.....

I remember those days.....

I was bullied once and (being the smaller and weaker kid) bit my attacker. The principal's approach was to bring out boxing gloves and to tell us to fight it out like men. I'm not joking......

Not to say it was all bad. Apparently some teachers, wanting the problem to go away, started bribing one of the worst of the bullies to stay away from me. In retrospect I don't really respect that approach either.....

Political correctness run amok (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663262)

Come on people, use your COMMON SENSE! Instead of putting people in jail, we should be educating children to simply ignore the taunts. How the hell did we end up with an entire generation of precious snowflakes that can't take a joke?

Re:Political correctness run amok (0, Troll)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663296)

Since when did rape become a joke?

Re:Political correctness run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663424)

The only thing not funny about a STATUTORY rape charge is the fact that - because you were 17 and fucked that 15 year old hottie - you're now on the sex offenders list for life.

Re:Political correctness run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663426)

The boys were charged with statutory rape because of their age; they're not charged with forcing her to have sex. I don't think it's splitting hairs to insist on that distinction.

Really, this smells way more like the police charging everybody they can find to try to make up for the fact that this girl is dead.

Re:Political correctness run amok (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663490)

Since when did rape become a joke?

Ohhh, some people don't like you to talk like that. Ohh, some people like to shut you up for saying those things. You know that. Lots of people. Lots of groups in this country want to tell you how to talk. Tell you what you can't talk about. Well, sometimes they'll say, well you can talk about something but you can't joke about it.

Say you can't joke about something because it's not funny. Comedians run into that shit all the time.

Like rape. They'll say, "you can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny."

I say, "fuck you, I think it's hilarious. How do you like that?"

I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd.

- George Carlin

Re:Political correctness run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663518)

Since it started arriving in 40lb boxes [funnyjunk.com] I believe.

Controversial or no, I can certainly understand trying to make some humour out of the frankly fucked-up statutory rape laws.

Re:Political correctness run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663618)

Since when did rape become a joke?

Since George Carlin in the 1980s.

Ohhh, some people don't like you to talk like that. Ohh, some people like to shut you up for saying those things. You know that. Lots of people. Lots of groups in this country want to tell you how to talk. Tell you what you can't talk about. Well, sometimes they'll say, well you can talk about something but you can't joke about it. Say you can't joke about something because it's not funny. Comedians run into that shit all the time. Like rape. They'll say, "you can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny." I say, "fuck you, I think it's hilarious. How do you like that?" I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd. See, hey why do you think they call him "Porky," eh? I know what you're going to say. "Elmer was asking for it. Elmer was coming on to Porky. Porky couldn't help himself, he got a hard-on, he got horny, he lost control, he went out of his mind."

It's better on VHS.

Re:Political correctness run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663500)

You sir, are a royal fucktard. You must wear your crown of ignorance and misogyny with distinct pride.

Re:Political correctness run amok (1, Insightful)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663578)

These girls were not joking. Boys beat the crap out of each other. Girls are a hell of a lot meaner.

Statutory rape? (5, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663266)

Since when has statutory rape been part of cyber bullying?

It sounds like cyber bullying was the least of her problems.

Re:Statutory rape? (1)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663360)

It is likely the statutory rape charges are related to her dating a high school senior of age 17 or older. I do not have the details, but it appears the ages of the charged persons are 17 and 18. It may be outside the law for them to have sex with a freshman, but I seriously doubt it is far outside of normal behavior.

Re:Statutory rape? (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663502)

Yeah, depends on what the AoC laws are like in MA.

Re:Statutory rape? (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663418)

Look at "Statutory Rape". I don't think it means what you think it means.

Re:Statutory rape? (2, Informative)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663582)

Eh... this isn't real rape. If it was, they'd go for that.

They're only using the 'statutory' version because the sex was so clearly consensual that it's the only thing that'll stick.

Sickens the hell out of me, it does.

Re:Statutory rape? (1)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663596)

Since when has statutory rape been part of cyber bullying?

Now that's one hell of a Facebook app.

Now we will see (0, Flamebait)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663274)

Stupid laws passed of dubious Constitutional muster aimed at preventing another tragedy of this sort just as we saw after Megan Meier's suicide. Queue the national histeria.

Look: this sort of thing has been going on a long time. (While I was bullied extensively in grade school a lot of that stopped at least for me by the time I reached high school, but I can still relate.) It's tragic but not much can be done. The administrators are often clueless and/or helpless, as are the teachers, and there is only so much they can do anyway.

I survived and thrived because my parents did a good job in helping address this sort of thing with me (by talking to me about it. not by interfering). I found out later that some of my teachers had been bribing some of the bullies to stay away from me, but that didn't matter much since I was beat up by plenty of other kids as well.

So instead we will turn our schools into prisons.

Re:Now we will see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663400)

Or, in alternative, teach your kid to defend himself. First time I got teased in high school, it didn't even register. When it got physical, I isolated one of the bullies outside and viciously beat him into a bloody pulp. Broke his nose, got him a black eye, and assorted bruises all over his body. When the kid went back to school a few good days later, he still had bruises, and everyone knew (to some extent) what had happened. I never got even looked at sideways again, ever, and I'm currently finishing University.

You just have to love parents who say "They insult you, you're better than that, but if they escalate to violence, get inventive. You're a kid. Kids will be kids, and can generally get away with anything."

Now I'm not encouraging violence here, but if a problem looks like a nail, then a hammer is the tool you want. Let some kids do that, and you'll suddenly have administrators much more worried.

Re:Now we will see (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663520)

I expect to work with my son on martial arts training as he gets a little older. He has had some issues with teasing at school. I have taught him how to deal with that:

"If you are teased, the best thing to do is to turn it around to a joke on the person teasing you."

One subtext to this:
It shows confidence and courage, and it puts you in control. If you get upset, you let them control you. In the end that's what the struggle is about: who is going to control what you do? You or them?

So I think that even in the realm of insults, there is room to teach kids to be inventive.

Re:Now we will see (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663568)

Now I'm not encouraging violence here, but if a problem looks like a nail, then a hammer is the tool you want. Let some kids do that, and you'll suddenly have administrators much more worried.

I tend to agree. I was picked on as a kid, until my ex-Marine uncle took me aside.

Re:Now we will see (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663556)

It is far worse when you transfer from another location and have no friends. I can also relate to this, but it is a fact of life and it happens in work, military, law enforcement and in homes. Some people have a different social outlook that is very caustic and centric. Whatever the ultimate origin, it is a root cause of many evils that can culminate in serial killers, terrorists, and nationalistic imperialism.
The public schools are absurd in their policies and my experience is being placed in the remedial classes because the school could not verify my straight A academic record. As a result, I learned what a switch blade was and how desperately disturbed some people really are.
The problem is that there is a fairly large population of people who cannot function as social individuals for what ever reason. I just consider it the poisonous natural flora. Many things are dangerous and some people fall in that category also. Strangely, the reaction is often prompted by their fear of people who are far more competent and talented.

Re:Now we will see (2, Insightful)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663656)

Girls and boys are different. For boys, the best way to stop the bully is to actually fight him. If you win or even draw, the bully usually stops. if you lose, you are no worse off. With girls, they use much more complex and often meaner methods then boys do.

I bled every school day for 8 months from bullies. I was not allowed to fight by my parents. I was more afraid of my parents then the bullies. When I arrived home with a stick shoved in one cheek and out the other, I was now allowed to fight back. I could not start it. Funny thing is with boy bullies, beating the crap out of them usually stops them from ever bothering you again.

Parenting? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663300)

Parenting, where is it?

Re:Parenting? (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663480)

Which reminds me of this graph [franksemails.com]

This sends a terrible message to victims (5, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663330)

The authorities have made it plain by their actions that there's no way to get justice and stay alive. This is just going to make suicide look like a more attractive option to targets of bullying.

The problem also runs deeper than the conduct of the high school authorities. What are the odds that the conscienceless perpetrators didn't present any warning signs in grade school and middle school?

Re:This sends a terrible message to victims (5, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663720)

The authorities have made it plain by their actions that there's no way to get justice and stay alive. This is just going to make suicide look like a more attractive option to targets of bullying.

Suicide *or* Columbine-style retaliation.

Mod me up! (-1, Flamebait)

zill (1690130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663334)

Or else I will kill myself and get you guys into big trouble!

Re:Mod me up! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663544)

That is wrong! It is wrong to enjoy humor! You are so wrong!

"Statutory Rape"? WTF? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663340)

Why did the two boys get statutory rape charges thrown in? Did they actually do something, or is that a bullshit charge? If there's a reason for it, were the girls not involved, or shouldn't they have been charged with it as well?

Re:"Statutory Rape"? WTF? (0, Troll)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663592)

They got statutory rape charges because the act in question was so clearly consensual that a regular rape charge wouldn't stick.

These kids may be grade-A assholes, but those charges need to die in a fire.

Broken Record (1)

ryanisflyboy (202507) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663354)

Here is the standard post, thought I'd help get it out of the way:

WHERE THE HELL WERE THE PARENTS!??!? *arrggghhh!*

If you're going to allow your children to use the Internet, understand that its misuse has the potential to cause serious psychological trauma. If your child is pre-disposed to suicidal thoughts to begin with, allowing unsupervised access to the Internet is potentially dangerous. Kind of like leaving your loaded gun within reach. What were the guardian's of this girl doing after the repeated harassment and torment caused by these kids?

Yes, the kids should not have done it. They now will face the consequences.
Yes, the teachers should have stopped it. Too bad nothing will happen to them. We wouldn't want to make the teachers responsible for anything.

However, the people with the ultimate responsibility are the people who brought her in to this world. Don't have kids if you can't be bothered to be responsible enough to do the quite difficult job of being a parent. That job includes engaging your child in regular communication, following up with teachers to know what is going on at school, and knowing what your child is doing (especially on the Internet). The parents will now have to live the rest of their lives asking one of two questions "Why didn't we do something?" or "Who can we blame for this?"

Re:Broken Record (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663666)

Where are the bullies' parents?

Oh wait, they're telling their kids how awesome/manly/whatever they are for driving a kid to kill herself. You go kiddo, show her who's boss!

The failure of the girl's parents to put her into counseling, the failure of the school to do... something (if they did anything they'd probably force her into counseling) all pales in comparison to the people responsible for raising these sociopathic vermin.

Just as a prominent warning (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663378)

I know most people, including even myself, have the reading style of letting our brains pick out the interesting bits and ignoring everything else, but it's important to point out that this isn't one of those cyberbullying vs free speech type of cases. Specifically:

The sweeping charges ... include statutory rape, violation of civil rights with bodily injury...

This isn't about the internet at all.

Correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663566)

Yeah, I really don't see the connection here either, except the remote connection that some posted "bully-type" comments on her facebook page.
And, since no one else is going to point it out: The statutory rape charges should never be. I can guarantee the only reason thhey are charged with it is because the kids who pushed the girl to suicide, when confronted and in trouble spouted "but he was having sex with her!" If this is the case, it shows the true person(s) behind the bullying -- scapegoating maniacle children because they grew up watching their parents lie and generally be shit heads.

so lame (-1, Troll)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663472)

if the person would have gone on a killing spree, would the group also be indicted?

Prosecute the school administrators, too (5, Insightful)

papa_lizard (1690036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663488)

"For months, community anger simmered that no punishment had befallen Phoebe's bullies. Petitions were signed and town hall meetings held." Not only do these students need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but so should the school administrators for gross negligence of their duties. How on earth can you let school bullying get to the point of requiring town hall meetings and still sit back and do nothing about it?

What's in a name? (0, Troll)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663504)

Megan Meier ... Phoebe Prince ...

Apparently you are more likely to be cyberbullied if your first and last names start with the same letter.

Re:What's in a name? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663670)

Alliteration kills! Ban all alliterations.......for the childrens.

This needs to be fixed (4, Interesting)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663512)

But it won't be without a comprehensive solution. Simply kicking the bad kids out of school doesn't help, it requires the action of the parents as well, but frequently the parents have the "not my kid" or "it's not a big deal" attitude. And once you have to get the cops involved it's gone too far.

A big part of the problem is that the rewards for being a bully are simply too great, vs. any punishment a school can hand out.

On the other hand there is a fuzzy line between mostly harmless teasing (which learning to deal with builds character) and bullying, although in this case it was clearly so far over the line that there is no question.

What we don't need is yet another zero tolerance policy. As I stated above, there needs to be a comprehensive solution where the bad kids are held accountable in a material way, and the parents of the bad kids are likewise held responsible. At the same time, the victims need to be to learn that the bullies just don't matter. Unfortunately, society rewards the "cool" kids and punishes the dorks.

Probably the best current solution is teaching your kids how to beat the living shit out of a bully and to deal with the repercussions of that action.

I didn't have to deal with this too much when I was in school, probably had something to do with being 6'2" / 160 in 8th grade. It seems to me that most bullies grow up to be extroverted assholes selling cars - just desserts.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family. (2, Insightful)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | more than 4 years ago | (#31663580)

...

criminal charges are criminal (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663588)

These charges is what is criminal

hanged vs hung (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663594)

Phoebe walked into her house and hung herself in a stairwell.

Not that the failure in copy editing is really the most important part of this story...

I went through this kind of shit (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663610)

I went through this kind of shit when I was kid.

A couple of kids on the school bus decided they had it in for me. It was pretty constant physical harassment, 45 minutes each way, 5 days a week.

I was only 11 at the time and had no ability to deal with this on any level. I came home in tears every day. My mom called the school; my mom called the kids' parents; nothing changed.

After a couple of months, I basically said I wasn't riding the bus any more. That made it my mother's problem. She went to my father and made it his problem. My father went to the principal and made it the principal's problem. I don't know what the principal did. My guess is he called in the two kids and told them to stop it. After that, they restricted themselves to verbal harassment, which I could more or less deal with.

When one of my own kids was 10, he started reporting harassment at school. We had a few discussions with his teachers, but the harassment continued. So we pulled him from the town school and sent him to a nearby charter school for the duration of Junior High. He was not harassed at the charter school.

In our state, the per-pupil funding for a student follows the student when they go to a charter school. So for the next 4 years, I got occasional letters from the town school extolling the quality of their faculty and curriculum, asking me to respond to surveys, and even inviting me to attend focus groups (I am not making this up) that they were conducting to try to figure out what they needed to do to hold onto students (and their per-pupil funding).

I always responded to these, in writing, explaining exactly why we had pulled our son. I never received any response, let alone any indication that school might actually protect my children from harassment.

Even when their own funding is on the line, town schools are unable(?) unwilling(?) (take your pick) to protect students from harassment.

What did we learn here? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31663672)

/wrists = legitimate method of revenge

Good job, that's exactly what we want to teach the kids.

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