Friday, July 23, 2010

Where does it end?

becoming unwrapped

When I first saw the reports that bullying was blamed for the suicide of a South Hadley High School student, I thought there must be more to the story than a three-month barrage of slurs from some mean (and arguably jealous) girls over the affections of some boys.

The suicide of a teenager is a tragic event. The fact that she suffered taunts and mistreatment before she died is additionally heartbreaking. Most people who have children would want atonement.

Yet, what was in print about the case, or said in front of cameras, to me anyway, seemed pretty typical of teenage taunts. Nevertheless, six students faced felony charges in connection with her death and the court of public opinion agreed.

Still, I can't help but wonder why.

Are none of us parents of imperfect children? Or are all the children who say mean things other people's kids? Kids who weren't raised to know right from wrong?

Ugly, yes; Shameful, certainly; appropriate, not in the least; but neither are the words they are accused of hurling beyond the pale in the power-struggle that pits one adolescent against another in the race to grow up faster. The desire to be more popular.

This week Slate released a story delving into the mental history of Prince, and included a fairly detailed timeline and description of what transpired between the teen and her alleged tormenters in the weeks leading up to Prince's death. Portions of it citing unreleased court documents supplied to defense attorneys.

The facts of the story don't seem to be in dispute.

Nevertheless, reaction in the Boston Herald from a former prosecutor (calling the Slate story a leak by defense attorneys that amounts to legal bullying) as well as commenters' outrage indicate that facts of Prince's mental state prior to the incidents are either irrelevant or confirm the heinous nature of the six defendants' behavior.

I know in the end a court will decide the guilt or innocence of the six defendants, and that it will do so based on legal definitions and rules of evidence. The victim's state of mind may have no bearing on the culpability of those accused of bullying her to death ... but in the meantime I can't stop myself from speculating where this all could lead.

Maybe making meanness a felony offense in high-profile cases will force our society to care more for each other. Stand up for those who need our protection. Maybe it will eliminate frustration and self doubt and loathing. It may even end the careers of some political bull(y) dogs.

The silence would sure be nice.

Or maybe it will lead to the assumption that words, based on their definitions alone, will be reason enough for imprisonment.


northpolemama said...

What a frightening thought. But not surprising if that is their decision. Our country just keeps letting fear of everything control our judicial system. As if they can lock away everyone that in any way may differ from the norm. God forbid you aren't the just like everyone else. Who gets to decide what "nice" is? Do you want people to be nice just because they are afraid of being locked up? Sounds more scary than some mean girls to me. Where was the system before this girl died? Where was all the outrage then?

Kcoz said...

Kids are cruel…and they lie! True this girl Phoebe may have had problems but I have no doubt that these teens sensed this and like sharks drawn to the smell of blood they attacked. Fact is they were escalating their attacks on Phoebe the day she sadly took her own life…If she did not do this, who is to say that these teens would NOT have harmed her themselves? If these teens were truly good kids than they should have left Phoebe alone knowing she was a troubled girl.
If history is a way to judge human behavior and correct it, and I believe it is, than take a look at this case about Shanda Sharer and how the jealousy of one teen girl, lead to her death;

Some of the girls who attacked and killed Shanda were into self-harm themselves so in Shanda’s case the perpetrators were the ones who were disturbed…bullying must be stopped when it begins and harsh punishment must be dished out to those that practice this disturbing personality trait, because when it does get out of control there is irreversible damage that effects many other peoples other than the victim…pain and suffering that may last a lifetime.

There is a saying that has much truth to it; “Women use sex to gain love and men use love to gain sex”. Sad to say I think Phoebe became a victim to this as she was looking for love and acceptance and Sean capitalized on this, getting himself some than going back to his girlfriend afterwards. Soon Phoebe had a reputation that is every teen girls worst nightmare, and being the new girl from another country made things worst. I have no doubt that these teens were part of the in-crowd and we all know how much influence such clicks have in the teen years…this thing would have followed Phoebe throughout her high school days and in her neighborhood…her only escape would have been to move away.

As for Phoebe telling Seans girlfriend Kayla about their sexual encounter, I say read between the lines and base your judgment on what you have experienced in life about human behavior. I have been in the lockerroom of a football team and I can assure you that Sean was bragging to anyone that would listen about his conquest of Phoebe. There would be no doubt that Phoebe would have gotten word of this and decided to confront Kayla, and tell her the truth. I’m sure Phoebe thought that her and Sean were going to be boyfriend and girlfriend but Sean just wanted to get a piece from the new girl. Kayla actually had no right to be angry with Phoebe since her and Sean were broken up at the time, but possession and jealously can be a powerful emotion. You will find here that Kayla is the true evil person and Sean jumped on the Kayla bandwagon once he went back to her, which tells us he is a weak, submissive, kiss-ass.
Kayla was using the exact same technique that Melinda Loveless used years before to influence others to hate another because of her own insecurity, and Phoebe was an easy mark…bullies always go after the weak.

I say set an example of these teens to let others know that abusing another in anyway will not be tolerated. These teens were escalating their abuse of Phoebe and very well may have harmed her themselves…Melinda Loveless influenced others with lies and hate and one night they kidnapped twelve-year-old Shanda Sharer from the safety of her home, beat and tortured her for ten hours as she pleaded for her life, than burned her alive, and left her to die alone, in a field in the middle of nowhere, miles from her home…what could any young person do to deserve such a fate?

Kids are cruel !!

northpolemama said...

Kids are also loving, and have big generous giving hearts, and are trusting and beautiful. It's all in the lens that you use to see the world around you.

toyfoto said...

See, I would say that people of all ages can be cruel, not just until they graduate high school. Some mature and gain the wisdom and stregth to think before they act, and others never do.

I think the kids of which Kcoz references were not really school-yard bullies as much as they were sociopaths. That's not to say these six students are not, or are not headed that direction, but they didn't light anyone on fire and leave them to die. And surmising they may have escalated their behavior to do so isn't really apropos to the arugment I'm making about how to apply the laws in this case.

The thing that stands out to me is that we can't always determine who are sociopaths and who are just judgement impared isn't easy from petty crime and mean behavior.

Which seems to me -- as being a high school girl once and having to deal with petty jealousy, locker slams, junk thrown at me, etc. -- average adolescent no-thinking-just-acting behavior.

Not to mention that I also have been in the mean girl's shoes. I've done and said things that I am not proud of. And even when I made amends with the injured parties, I've never really felt free of guilt for having been so cruel.

I guess I'm just trying to say that in as much as I feel for Phoebe Prince and her family; I can just as easily put myself in the place of the students who were cruel and the administration who may have hoped it would just all blow over.

I think this problem is more than six students deep.

Kcoz said...

toyfoto said...
(And surmising they may have escalated their behavior to do so isn't really apropos to the arugment I'm making about how to apply the laws in this case.)

Let me first state that the last thing I endorse is the use of the “thought police”, charging someone because they may commit a crime.

The one crime they did commit was stalking, and it could be said because of the escalation and that there was a group involved, they were stalking with intent to do harm…that is where it gets tricky. What I was trying to say is that the group itself had become a weapon. It has been proven that a group will become more violent than any one individual on their own and the fact that this group came together (intent) to follow this girl home (Stalking) by harassing and threatening her, is where the law was broken.

Look at it like this…If I’m in a bar fight with another guy over a girl…no big deal, just two stupid drunk guys fighting. Now if I pull a knife, I have intent to do harm and have broken the law. If I spoke about having an altercation with this guy all day, and followed him to the bar with a knife in my pocket, it is premeditated intent to do harm. So maybe I don’t stab him and the fight ends, I should still be arrested and charged because the other guy has the right to feel safe in his surroundings and it was proven I came into his space with the intent of harming him.

Between the escalation of the abuse that went from bitter words to Internet slander, to group harassment, (a pattern) to the forming of a group (weapon) that followed her home (stalking) shows intent to do harm….all I’m saying.

What the author of the article was saying is that this girl Phoebe just may have killed herself for a number of reasons and if anything she is responsible of being the “Thought Police”, because Phoebe just may have overcome her problems as many teens do and the author seems to be saying she would have killed herself anyway. The fact is this girl committed suicide immediately after being stalked and threatened buy a group, following a prolonged harassment buy the same players…and weather it was psychological or physical, they had “Intent to do harm”.


Kcoz said...

northpolemama said...
(Kids are also loving, and have big generous giving hearts, and are trusting and beautiful. It's all in the lens that you use to see the world around you.)

I know that not all kids are cruel, that statement was meant in direct relation to the kids I was referring to in my post…. maybe what I should have said is cruel kids can be surprisingly immoral, sadistic, and a danger when they from a group.