If you see something, say something.
That phrase is printed widely throughout New York City, asking citizens to report any suspicious activity to authorities to prevent a terrorist attack.
The same phrase might have saved Phoebe Prince’s life. She hung herself 16 months ago using a scarf given to her by her little sister for Christmas after she was bullied by her classmates to the point she couldn’t bear to live anymore. Somebody had to have known what other kids were doing to her. Who knows if making mention of how she was treated to a teacher or parent could have meant she’d still be here today.
Phoebe attended South Hadley High School in Massachusetts and was the subject of intense bulling and shaming by a group of kids who are now facing the law for their actions. Two of the six defendants pleaded guilty yesterday, with more to come shortly. There have been some rumblings that the kids are receiving harsh sentences, but nothing they’re being slapped can’t possibly be as rough as the sentence the Prince family is facing, which is life without one of their daughters.
Bullying doesn’t happen in a bubble. Kids who weren’t part of the bullying of Phoebe had to have witnessed some of it happening, either through eyewitness accounts or gossip. It might not be cool or popular to rat on the In crowd, but is it any worse than a girl taking her own life over how she’s being treated?
Bullies don’t act in secret; they want other kids to know they have the power to make others submit. Every parent of a high school kid should make them read and memorize the accounts of what was done to Phoebe – how she was subjected to endless torment by her peers in a whisper, text message and abuse campaign. And how it lead her to take her own life.
Kids who see others being harassed — whether or not they think it’s a big deal or no big deal — need to mention it to a teacher or a parent. Kids are literally dying over what used to just be typical mean teen behavior. But death isn’t typical for a high school girl. It’s gotten worse. Other kids need to speak up. Plain and simple. For Phoebe’s sake.