100 South Hadley parents demand action on bullying after Phoebe Prince suicide
Group wants strong measure to be taken to avoid similar tragedies
The tragic suicide of Irish teenager Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts on January 14 has parents speaking out against bullying, and seeking strong measures to avoid similar tragedies in the future.
It’s nearly three weeks since Phoebe, 15, from Fanore, Co. Clare, was found hanging in her closet by her younger sister, and locals are furious that little is being done to address the issue of bullying which is believed to have led to her suicide.
Parents and students at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts are calling for the district’s superintendent, Gus Sayer, to be fired.
Concerned parents and students were present to protest at a meeting of the town’s Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night to highlight the need for punishment to be administrated to the students at South Hadley who bullied Phoebe, subsequently leading to her death on January 14.
One of the organizers of the protest said, “We are going to try and make a petition to have the superintendent removed because he is not doing his job . . . and at the last meeting he kept rolling his eyes at us as comments and questions were being said.”
Erica Laughlin, 39, is the mother of four children and lives in South Hadley, a small town in Western Massachusetts.
Laughlin wrote on IrishCentral.com that the town of South Hadley “sadly has a long history of its kids being cruel.”
Laughlin grew up in a nearby town and recently moved to South Hadley with her husband and children.
“My husband and I decided last fall, before we even moved here, not to enroll our children in this town’s schools specifically because of the reputation the kids here have for being relentlessly cruel,” wrote Laughlin.
“These kids and their families need to be held responsible for their part in contributing to the death of this beautiful young lady. Phoebe lived literally right around the corner from us. We will not allow her to be forgotten.”
Laughlin also said school officials need to be held accountable for their part in Prince’s death.
“I don’t know why somebody was not kicking down doors for this girl. Maybe if enough people show up and start to make noise, people will start to do something.”
Another parent whose children attend the high school Prince briefly went to said she attended a school meeting last week where parents came forward and spoke of the brutal teasing that their own children have been subjected to.
“This has been an issue for many years, and the school committee has done nothing about it,” she wrote anonymously.
An expert in bullying, Barbara Coloroso, was brought into South Hadley to speak to the students following Prince’s death.
Coloroso, who also advised students at Columbine High School after two boys who were bullied shot 13 others in 1999, told the Boston Globe that the students of South Hadley “wanted to know what could have been done to prevent Phoebe’s death. It appeared to them that nothing was being done.”
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