Phoebe Prince was [a] pretty, intelligent, 15-year-old high school student who had just accepted a date to a high school dance. An immigrant from Ireland, Prince had been in the United States for just a few months when she took her own life in January 2010.
Later, officials discovered from her classmates that Phoebe had been subjected to a withering barrage of harassing text messages and Facebook posts. Those unkind posts continued on Facebook even after Phoebe died, forcing Facebook to remove them.
In the last few years, several similar cases have gained national attention. In 2006, 13-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide after the mother of a former friend created a fake Facebook profile specifically to harass the girl. Earlier this year, another child from Massachusetts—an 11-year-old boy—killed himself after bullies called him gay.
Read the rest of this lesson from youthworker.com.
What are we doing to prevent bullying within our groups? Have your students been bullied? Have they bullied others, even if they may not call it that? What do you do when you hear about kids being bullied and/or bullying others?
As I mentioned in my recent post different (which my friend Dennis Beckner recently put up on VolunteerYouthMinistry.com as a guest post) I was not a victim of major bullying when I was a kid. But I wonder if that would have been the case had social media like Facebook, not to mention 24/7 text messaging, existed back then. Last summer we had a situation where an older boy had grabbed the cell phone of another boy finishing 6th grade. This boy selected a contact at random and texted “I like boys” to the younger boy’s classmate (whom he didn’t even know). The boy whose phone had been used had good reason to be quite upset.
As we helped the families process, it became clear that some of the things the bully in this situation had gone through had wounded him deeply. The older boy apologized, but you can’t unring the bell of the damage that carelessly sent text message had done. How often can we trace the hurtful actions of bullies to hurt inflicted on them in the past?
I do not condone nor excuse the actions of any bully, but I really wonder if we’re letting kids slip through the cracks here. It seems I’ve developed a sixth sense for finding that one kid who needs a lot of extra attention to keep him from heading down a destructive path. What are you doing to break the bullying cycle?