It has been reported by the Northwestern (MA) District Attorney, Elizabeth Scheibel, that school officials in South Hadley High School knew of and failed to take any action concerning the bullying that resulted in the suicide of a 15 year-old high school freshman, Phoebe Prince, on January 14, 2010.
The District Attorney's investigation determined that the bullying had been "common knowledge" among students and school administrators.
There was a report of open harassment of the girl while other students and a teacher looked on. Another exchange left her weeping openly in class in front of a high school instructor.
Not surprisingly, school administration officials denied knowledge of the student's suffering, saying she never told them of the bullying and only learned of it the week before she committed suicide at home.
Their credibility is severely undermined as it is reported that Phoebe herself asked school officials to allow her to leave school as she was fearful of being beaten up. Her mother is also reported as having spoken to school administration about the abusive treatment Phoebe was subjected to by two groups of students.
It is an outrage that nothing was done to prevent the taunting, heckling, name-calling, and physical abuse she was subjected to at school over a three month period.
The legal remedies available, whether criminal charges against the 6 teens currently charged with a variety of crimes, or civil suits for wrongful death against all the offenders, including the school administration, for "wrongful act, neglect or default", are obviously inadequate and no solace for the family, nor for our society at large.
This entry based on reporting by the Boston Globe Staff.