Jeremy Prince believes that Phoebe was placed in the situation that if she told the school about her bullies they would have made her situation worse. This is was drove her to suicide.
In an interview with the Boston Globe Jeremy said that charging the six teens with various crimes which led to Phoebe’s death is only setting an example. However, he pointed out that this drastic action would not have been necessary had the adults of South Hadley High School intervened.
They had been made aware of Phoebe’s vulnerability but, according to Jeremy, Phoebe was left with no options. Sadly Phoebe did not share with her Mother, Anne O’Brien, in Massachusetts or Jeremy, who lives in County Clare how bad the situation had gotten in the days before her suicide.
“Phoebe’s perception, and I think it was the correct one, is that if she had told us, we would have been down at the school ranting and raving, but that the school would not do anything about it and it would actually get worse,” said Jeremy.
Phoebe’s Mother had asked the school to help out with Phoebe as she was new in the country and the school. She was also dating older boys and this had created problems with her within the groups of children in the school.
“The whole culture was wrong at that school. The school turned a blind eye for administrative reasons,” Jeremy told the Globe. “They closed ranks. The adults at the high school responded to this like administrators, not educators. Administrators minimize everything, they want as little hassle as possible. An educator would be setting an example.
“I think the district attorney is setting an example: this behavior will not be tolerated, it is against the law, and the law has consequences. The charges are warranted and should have been brought. That said, I would be opposed to the young people charged in this case being made an example of. There’s a big difference between setting an example and making an example of someone. I don’t want disproportionate punishment.’’
In previous interviews Jeremy has reiterated that he does not believe the teenagers should be sent to prison for bullying however he wants them to apologize for what they did to Phoebe.
He said “I hate the word bullying…What they did to Phoebe was not bullying. Bullying is this word with benign, Victorian overtones. Do you know what the French call bullying? Persecution. It’s spelled the same, and it means the same. It’s easily defined as long-term harassment meant to injure or distress someone. That’s what was done to Phoebe.”
Essentially the message he gave to the Boston Globe was “Persecution demands prosecution, Jeremy Prince believes, but justice does not demand vengeance.”
Phoebe was a nervous child but Jeremy said that he was gentle rather than quiet “She was the type of child who would wake me in the middle of the night to put a spider out of her room rather than squash it dead,” said Jeremy. “As a person, she wasn’t that vulnerable. It was the environment of the school and the threats of physical violence. She was susceptible to that.’’
Jeremy is now living in County Clare with his younger daughter Lauren. Though they are happy now living in Ireland he said they wont rule out moving to the United States.
“We’ll play it by ear…Lauren needs time here. I would very much like to come back to America at some point. We had a very bad experience, but we met an awful lot of good people there also.
“There’s something about Americans that is instantly likeable. They can genuinely feel and share other people’s pain. And they are not afraid to show that. It’s unique about America, and I think it’s something that’s quite admirable.”