A national expert on bullying was in South Hadley on Tuesday night as the guest of local parents nine months after Irish teenager Phoebe Prince hanged herself as a result of bullying at the local high school.
Barbra Coloroso addressed about 100 people at the Town Hall where she told parents that bullying should never be ignored.
“Bullying is something we ignore at our kids’ peril...If your child’s being bullied, you can’t be the last to know,” she said.
"Bullying is the dehumanizing of other human beings with intent to harm," Coloroso added.
Coloroso was brought to South Hadley last Tuesday by local citizens group, Stand Up for A Change, and in collaboration with the Worcester-based law firm, Abigail & Associates.
"My goal in breaking this cycle is to give each kid a new role," she said. "There is a fourth role that any of these kids can assume and that is of the 'witness, resister and defender.'"
In her third talk at South Hadley she said there are three roles in bullying: the bully, the target and the bystander.
Coloroso was hired by South Hadley high school last fall to give training about bullying but the school failed to implement her recommendations until after Phoebe Prince's suicide on January 14th earlier this year.
The bullying expert later criticized the policy the school committee adopted saying they had made the mistake of defining bullying as a “repeated” act.
Speaking about lack of action by school authorities the expert said : "This is a chance for administrators to take a lead role. In the case of apathetic teachers, fire them up or fire them."
Prince’s aunt , Eileen Moore attended the meeting and was adamant that people were aware of the affects that bullying has had on the Massachusetts community
“People aren’t forgetting,” said insisted.
On Tuesday the attorney for one of the six teens charged in connection with Prince's death said that her suicide was out of the teenage boys control.
“He’s expressed to authorities that he was remorseful,” Terrence Dunphy said following a pretrial hearing for Austin Renaud in Northampton Superior Court. “He considered her a friend. But circumstances got beyond his control.”
Renaud is charged with statutory rape. His pretrial conference was scheduled for February 10th of next year.
After emigrating from Ireland with her family 15-year-old Prince was bullied continuously for several months before she took her own life last January. Six teenagers have been charged with felonies in connection with the Irish teenagers death.