Too Familiar: Another Teen Taunted by Cyberbullies Commits Suicide
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2010 Jan 27
Even in death, Phoebe Prince was bullied. On a memorial page dedicated to the Massachusetts teen who had recently committed suicide, Facebook members left taunting comments that had to be removed.
The 15-year-old -- a recent immigrant from Ireland with a pretty face and a soft brogue -- was found dead in her South Hadley, Massachusetts home Jan. 14, according to police.
Afterward, her fellow students came forward to tell school officials that Prince had been teased incessantly, taunted by text messages and harassed on social networking sites like Facebook.
The Prince family recently relocated from a tiny village in the west of Ireland. But Phoebe had trouble adjusting to her new school and became the victim of incessant bullying by classmates.
Bullying has become increasingly common in schools throughout the United States.
The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center estimated that nearly 30 percent of American youth are either a bully or a target of bullying.
In addition, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, in a new review of studies from 13 countries, found signs of an apparent connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide.
"The incidence of bullying is getting more and more frequent and takes lots of forms," said Herbert Nieberg, associate professor of criminal justice at Mitchell College in Connecticut and a psychologist who specializes in adolescents.
And when the bullying moves to the Internet, the trauma to the victim is "astronomically" escalated, according to Nieberg.
"In the old days kids would threaten to beat someone up, but now it's gone into the cyberworld," he told ABCNews.com. "Kids go on to Facebook because they get a wider audience than in the hallway."