A teenager from County Clare, Phoebe Prince, took her life on Thursday, January 14, following harassment and bullying by schoolmates. After her death, the bullies defaced the Facebook page that had been set up in her honor, posting malicious comments and images.
The 15-year-old was living with her family, who were on a short-term relocation in the US, and had lived here for just six months. Early this week, Daniel Smith, the principal at her school said, "Phoebe was a smart, charming – and as is the case with many teenagers – complicated young person who truly valued her close friends and her family," the Irish Examiner reported.
Harassment is a major problem at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts. Several children have left the town because of bullying, according to the Examiner.
The extent of the problem was clear in the vandalizing of Prince’s memorial page on Facebook. The site has been closed and all the messages on it have been made private.
Smith said that Prince had been pretty and clever, but said the school had recently intervened because of conflicts with other students relating to dating and relationships. A school dance was due to be held two days after she died.
“Some students made mean-spirited comments to Phoebe in school and on the way home from school, but also through texting and social-networking Web sites,” Smith wrote, according to the Boston Herald. “This insidious, harassing behavior knows no bounds.”
“We will never know the specific reasons why she chose to take her life,” he added. “However, both local and state police investigations are looking into the role that bullying may have played in her decision.”
Her family are setting up a scholarship in her name. A memorial service will be held in Ireland.