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Memorial for the Columbine High School students killed in the massacre April 20, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado. (CU Independent/Amanda Moutinho)
Phoebe Prince’s death could have been prevented.
On Jan. 14, Prince committed suicide after being harassed ruthlessly by classmates for months after she transferred from Ireland to South Hadley High School in Massachusetts.
My questions: How? How can kids be so cruel? How can students get away with this? How do people unmercifully destroy someone else’s life?
Facing bullying in the hallways, classrooms, the library, on the way home, on her cell phone and on the Internet pushed Prince to make her choice. They verbally abused her, calling her an “Irish whore.” They drew nasty images on her school photos.
A group of teenagers zeroed in on this new girl and made her life a living hell, for no reason more than high school politics.
What has this world come to when after a girl commits suicide another changes their Facebook status to “accomplished”?
While I can’t understand what would prompt a group of adolescents to ruin someone’s life, it’s more baffling to me that the school’s administration just let it happen.
There is no excuse for the faculty not to take action when a concerned mother complains about the harassment of her child, twice! Teachers even witnessed the taunting and allegedly didn’t report it until after Prince’s death.
Ignoring these indisputable red flags was an atrocity that should have been addressed immediately and forcefully.
This story hit home like a ton of bricks when I realized what date looms in the future: the 11th anniversary of the Columbine massacre.
I grew up 10 minutes away from Columbine High School. Seeing ribbons on cars saying “We are Columbine” and visiting the memorial built at Clement Park is heartbreaking. Every time I drive by the school by the school I am reminded.
April 20, 1999. Two high school seniors, who felt alienated and bullied by their peers, murdered 12 of their classmates and one teacher, leaving more than 20 people more injured. I was in third grade. I still remember the terror I felt.
I was overwhelmed with the same emotion when I heard of Prince’s death. Coming from an area where bullying is taken very seriously, it’s shocking and devastating to hear these deaths still occur.
My school had a zero-tolerance bullying policy. In middle school, students were required to participate in “bully-proofing” classes, where students would weekly discuss harassment and learn strategies for prevention.
At the time I felt these lessons were unnecessary and boring, I never fully understood their importance. People need to be informed about the severe consequences of bullying.
What people are capable of is horrifying. This story shows the power we have to affect someone’s life, whether positively or very negatively. Do not take that power lightly.
When a community is rocked by a tragedy like Columbine’s shooting, or Prince’s suicide, it forces awareness of this issue.
A quote on Columbine Memorial reads, “It brought the nation to its knees, but now that we’ve gotten back up how have things changed; what have we learned?”
Bullying is not a game.
Prince’s case has spurred the country to reevaluate its anti-bullying legislation in order to end this crisis.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Amanda Moutinho at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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