Early last year, Phoebe Prince — a 15 year old who had recently moved to the U.S. from Ireland — committed suicide after relentless bullying by her schoolmates. Three 16-year-old girls — Ashley Longe, Flannery Mullins and Sharon Chanon Velazquez — were charged as youthful offenders with felonies including violation of civil rights, while three other students — Sean Mulveyhill, 17, Kayla Narey, 17, and Austin Renaud, 18 — were charged as adults in the incident. All the cases were settled with only probation for the accused, except for Renaud, whose charge of statutory rape was dropped entirely.
It’s important to remind people of the perpetrators of the bullying in this case, because that is one simple way to stop bullying. Show people that bullying has life-long consequences that will follow you forever, especially when such bullying leads a person to such hopelessness that they believe the only way out is to take their own lives.
In Massachusetts, this tragedy led to the passing of an anti-bullying law that supposedly made schools safer and put an end to the worst cases of bullying. (We don’t know how effective it is, as I couldn’t find any outcome data associated with the new law.)
Sadly, apparently the rest of the country hasn’t gotten the message yet. Word out of Ridge Farm, Illinois yesterday was that a 10-year-old Irish American girl named Ashlynn Conner apparently committed suicide last week due to relentless bullying from schoolmates.
Worse yet — Illinois has had an anti-bullying law on the books since 2001.