Reports from South Hadley, Massachusetts just days after the first anniversary of the suicide of Phoebe Prince, suggest the situation at South Hadley High School has not improved one iota.
Prince was the victim of a relentless bullying campaign at the hands of her fellow South Hadley students before she took her own life on January 14, 2010. She had emigrated to the U.S. with her family from Ireland to start a new life in Massachusetts.
Despite the passage of a law in Mass. to train school officials in identifying and properly reporting signs of bullying, it would appear things on the ground are much the same.
“I don’t think anything has changed at South Hadley High School,’’ Jennifer Kalvinek, mother of a 16 year-old student at the school, told the Boston Globe.
Kalvinek’s daughter, Payton, has Asperger’s syndrome and has suffered at the hands of her fellow students.
“A boy threw breadsticks at her in the cafeteria,’’ Kalvinek added.. “A lot of people witnessed this. Nothing was done.’’
Kalvinek went on to say that her daughter has informed the school several times that she has suffered abuse, to no avail.
“It’s not just students,’’ continued the concerned mother. “Teachers are encouraging this by their actions or inactions. If a kid is somewhat different, like Payton, it’s hands off.’’
Payton herself revealed to the Boston Globe the extent of the abuse that she has suffered.
“I’ve been called bitch, Satan, everything,’’ she said. “People laugh at me. A boy threatened to beat me up. Teachers put me down and say things about me in front of other students.’’
Jennifer Kalvinek added that her daughter told her about the bullying of Phoebe Prince and she called the school some eight weeks before the Clare teenagers suicide to tell them about her concerns for the Irish girl and for her daughter.
She was told things were under control.
“Every time I called, they said they were on top of it,’’ Kalvinek told the Globe. “Well, they weren’t on top of it with Phoebe, and they’re not on top of it with my daughter.’’
The concerned mother went on to day that her daughter’s grades have plummeted since their move to South Hadley from the nearby town of Ware.
The school did not respond to the Globe’s request for a response, but the worrying signs point to no changes where it really count, in the corridors and classrooms of South Hadley High.