As discussed in http://www.examiner.com/x-10548-Hartford-Special-Interests-Examiner~y2010m4d6-Cyberbullying-is-a-new-fact-of-life, the fallout continues in the Phoebe Prince case, and is being closely watched in Connecticut.
Phoebe Prince was the 15-year-old teenager who committed suicide in January in South Hadley, Massachusetts after months of relentless bullying from schoolmates.
Of the nine students who are facing prosecution, three of the teenagers charged with crimes relating to Phoebe’s death were in court on Tuesday, April 6th. “The teens were no shows on Tuesday. They were bailed out by their lawyers under a state law allowing them to skip the arraignment…"
The three teens were named in court. “Kayla Narey is charged with violations of civil rights and criminal harassment. Sean Mulveyhill is charged with violation of civil rights, criminal harassment and statutory rape. Austin Renaud is only being charged with statutory rape… The next [court] date carries a mandatory court appearance. That's scheduled for September 15, 2010.” http://www.cbs3springfield.com/news/local/90058422.html
“Nine students have now been charged with harassment and other bullying-related crimes, spurring national debate about the role of the justice system and the culpability of the school administration. But Prince's case raises another, more elemental question: Why are kids so cruel?” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36335617/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/
While answers continue to be sought by school officials, parents, and young people themselves, studies continue across the globe. One such study, conducted in Victoria, Australia and published in 2001, found, “A history of victimisation and poor social relationships predicts the onset of emotional problems in adolescents. Previous recurrent emotional problems are not significantly related to future victimisation. These findings have implications for how seriously the occurrence of victimisation is treated and for the focus of interventions aimed at addressing mental health issues in adolescents.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC48131/
In Connecticut, while we grapple with the challenges surrounding cyberbullying, students from the Haddam-Killingworth high school are taking an educational message of caution to schools around the state. A copy of the presentation on Youth Internet Safety is available on the H-K high school web site at: http://www.rsd17.org/hkhs/resources.shtml.
Dr. JoAnn Freiberg of the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE) is an expert on the multiple forms of bullying facing our young people. Dr. Freiberg has been dealing with the issues of bullying for many years, and is the “School Climate, Bullying and Character Education Consultant” in Hartford.
Dr. Freiberg can be reached at:
Connecticut State Department of Education
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Telephone: (860) 713-6598
Fax: (860) 713-7023
SDE has several resources, developed both within the state and by the federal government. Many are available on-line at http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2678&q=321940. Unfortunately, the site has not been updated since 2007; however, it still contains relevant, helpful information.
Additional information can be found on various federal sites, including the Department of Justice at www.doj.gov and the Department of Health and Human Services at www.hhs.gov as well as the Department of Education at www.ed.gov.