Phoebe Prince was 15 years old the day she hanged herself after being bullied mercilessly by a group of girls and some boys for months. She was the new girl, targeted for dating the wrong boy and harassed almost constantly by this group of horrible teens until she could take it no more.
Prince moved to Massachusetts in the fall of 2009 from Ireland and started dating Sean Mulveyhill, 18. Kayla Narey, a friend of Mulveyhill's did not like this and started harassing her. By January of that school year, Prince was terrified to even walk down the hall at her school. They threatened her and harassed her. They threw things at her as she walked down the street.
Even at home she was not safe. They harassed her on Facebook and through text on her phone. Is it any surprise that she killed herself?
The teens responsible include Sharon Velazquez, 17; Ashley Longe, 18; Flannery Mullins, 18; and Mulveyhill and Narey as well as Austin Renaud, 19, against whom there was an additional charge of statutory rape.
Velazquez and Longe pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal harassment. Mullins admitted to a misdemeanor civil rights violation and each was sentenced to one year of probation and up to 100 hours of community service. The deal was that in exchange for their pleas, other charges including felony civil rights violations resulting in bodily harm and stalking were dropped.
Mulveyhill and Narey admitted to misdemeanor criminal harassment and received similar sentences. Prosecutors said that Mulveyhill encouraged his friends to harass Prince, the new and vulnerable girl at the school who likely already felt terribly alone as a recent immigrant.
I can only imagine the pain she felt at his (Mulveyhill's) unrelenting desire to harass and humiliate her. Phoebe ended her pain brought about by harassment, harassment that could easily have been stopped if any of those involved had ever reached inside themselves to find their own compassion.
These kids got off easy. They will get to grow up, have this period of their life erased from their history. They will go to college, get jobs, marry, have children and generally live the life Prince will never have. Because they stole it from her.
Was jail the answer? It is hard to say. But something is deeply flawed inside a boy who could show such little emotion toward a girl he once slept with and cared for. There is something wrong with the parents who raised him that way and there is something wrong with a system that does not acknowledge the way they drove her to what she did.
All of these kid's lives should be destroyed just as they destroyed hers. They should not be able to move on from this as though nothing happened. Will community service really teach them anything except how easily they escaped what should have been?
All of these kids should have seen jail cells. And all should be marked permanently for what they did. After all, Prince's punishment was permanent. Why shouldn't theirs' be, too?
Do you think they got off too easy?
Image via YouTube