Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Newsy: Teens Charged in Cyberbullying Case

Nine students are charged in a cyberbullying case resulting in a Massachusetts teenager's suicide. Now, state lawmakers are considering tougher laws.
"Phoebe Prince's lifeless body was found by her younger sister upstairs in their South Hadley house...." (WCBV-TV)
The death of a Massachusetts teenager by suicide has renewed discussions about cyberbullying. 15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself, after weeks of relentless bullying. Nine teens have been arrested for everything from statutory rape to civil rights violations and harrassment. Massachusetts lawmakers are considering cracking down. But others say this is an issue of parenting.
We're looking at perpsectives from WCVB-TV, ABC,, WAAF-FM, and CBS, and
First -- to the case. Prince moved to South Hadley from Ireland last September. By January, she had hanged herself after months of taunting, some of which school officials knew about. And as ABC's Yunji Denise reports it didn't stop with her death: "Several tribute pages for Phoebe Prince have popped up on Facebook. Most of the messages are positive, but others were so cruel, they had to be taken down."
A writer from the Boston Globe says what happened to Phoebe Prince happens in a lot of schools. And not enough is done about it: "The Mean Girls are pretty, and popular, and play sports. So far, they appear to be untouchable, too."
Charges finally came down this week from the prosecuting attorney. But on WAAF-FM, a blogger who goes by the name -- Hill-Man -- says, some things you just can't prevent: "Like angry medieval villagers, holding pitchforks and torches, they scream about how justice must be done and the girls who bullied Phoebe should be charged criminally. For what? Being mean? I’m sorry…but we don’t do that in this country."
A bullying expert tells CBS News the problem doesn't rest with the bullies alone. But with the victims who can isolate themselves in their torment: "Too often kids face cyber bullying, all by themselves, in their dark, staring at the screen."
And while lawmakers look to enact tougher cyber-bullying laws, a columnist on says, parents have a role in this as well. It starts with talking and monitoring what kids are doing online: "If all of this sounds obvious, well, that's the upside. These efforts take awareness and effort and commitment on the part of schools and parents, but they're not technical or particularly difficult—you don't need to open Twitter account to help your kid navigate the online world."
So what do you think? Is this an issue of parenting? Or should lawmakers and prosecutors crack down?

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