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How Serious An Issue Is Teenage Bullying?

Submitted by on April 14, 2010 – 5:00 pm2 Comments

Last night on Larry King Live, Bill Cosby struck out at one of the biggest issues facing teenagers—bullying.

Speaking generally on the topic, Cosby zeroed in on Phoebe Prince, the 15-year-old Massachusetts teenager who tragically committed suicide in January this year. Cosby told King he couldn’t believe Prince’s teachers at South Hadley High School had failed to address what was happening to her.

“I don’t know if shocked is the word as much as I just did not believe,” said Cosby. “I don’t believe you can take a job as a teacher, as a superintendent, as a principal and not recognize when you’re being told by parents,” he added.

According to CBS News, Phoebe, a high school freshman who had recently arrived in the U.S. from Ireland, endured three months of verbal and electronic (via Facebook and text message) attacks at the hands of three classmates before hanging herself in the stairwell of her home. Prosecutors say eyewitness accounts paint an “intolerable” campaign of insults, humiliation and, in the final days of Phoebe’s life, threats.

Hounded with slurs and pelted with a beverage container as she walked home from school one day, Phoebe hanged herself on January 14, 2010, two days before her school dance. And according to the Boston Herald, on the day Phoebe died, one of the accused bullies allegedly wrote “accomplished” as the status on her Facebook page.

Earlier this month, nine students—a mix of boys and girls—were charged in the death of Phoebe Price with various crimes ranging from assault to human-rights violations to, in an unexpected twist, statutory rape. All have pleaded not guilty to the charges. In response to Phoebe’s death and the students’ indictment, South Hadley High formed an anti-bullying task force and will now electronically log all bullying and harassment reports.

News report from AP:

We laugh at movies like Mean Girls that make light of the subject, but in reality the issue is a deep, ongoing problem that shouldn’t be accepted or tolerated on any level. Phoebe Prince is the latest tragic victim of bullying but teens continue to go through it every day, in every school, in every state around the country and the world. For more information on how to deal with bullying, please visit StopBullyingNow.

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