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By John M Grohol PsyD

You know things have gotten bad when prosecutors start prosecuting teens — some on felony charges that could result in significant jail time — because of bullying. Yes, bullying.

Most of us have experienced bullying at one point in our lives, or know someone who has been bullied. Of course for most, the bullying didn’t result in lifelong scars. Part of that is because the extremes of bullying were not really known 20 or 30 years ago. You couldn’t bully someone 24/7 through Facebook, Twitter, email and forums devoted entirely to making other people’s lives miserable (yes, such online communities exist).

So nowadays sometimes bullying is taken to an extreme. Not by one or two teens or kids, but by a whole gang of them.

In central Massachusetts, it led Phoebe Prince — a 15-year old Irish immigrant — to hang herself. And now 9 teens have been indicted on charges related to her humiliation and threats. Threats that ultimately led to her death.

The details of the case are disturbing… Not just for the behavior of the teenagers involved, but also in the negligence of school officials and teachers who failed to do anything about it:

It was particularly alarming, the district attorney said, that some teachers, administrators and other staff members at the school were aware of the harassment but did not stop it. “The actions or inactions of some adults at the school were troublesome,” she said, but would not lead to criminal charges.

Ms. Prince had recently moved to the United States from Ireland when she started at South Hadley High School as a freshman last fall. The taunting started when she had a brief relationship with a senior boy; some students reportedly called her an “Irish slut,” knocked books out of her hands and sent her threatening text messages.

On the day of her death, the investigation found, students abused her in the school library, in the lunchroom and the hallways and threw a canned drink at her as she walked home.

So while I believe the response — although perhaps extreme — is the right one, it also doesn’t address the school’s negligence in stopping this inappropriate behavior from occurring over and over again in a single day.

There may not be a single “right” response to such bullying. But hopefully what this indictment shows is that if you want to bully someone as a teen, and then they go and do something extreme, you may find yourself being held accountable. And not just to juvenile crimes (which typically have lesser and less severe sentences), but to adult crimes as well.

It’s a hard way to learn that life is unfair. But you make what you want for yourself and out of your life. And if you want to feel the power associated with bullying, be prepared to enjoy the prison time that comes along with it. Crimes are crimes and driving a person to death by relentless threats and harassment is nothing to be proud of.

Read the full article: 9 Teenagers Are Accused of Bullying That Led to Suicide

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Source:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/29/teenage-bullying-leads-to-9-indictments/


Bullies’ Behavior Driven By Pursuit Of Status And Affection

Article Date: 27 Mar 2010 – 0:00 PDT

Bullying is common in classrooms around the world: About 15 percent of children are victimized, leading to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and other negative outcomes. What’s driving bullies to behave the way they do? According to a new large-scale Dutch study, most bullies are motivated by the pursuit of status and affection.

The longitudinal study was conducted by researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. It appears in the March/April 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

In their work, the researchers questioned almost 500 elementary-school children ages 9 to 12. Based on their findings, they conclude that bullies generally choose to gain status by dominating their victims. But at the same time, they try to reduce the chances that they’ll end up on the outs with other classmates by choosing as victims children who are weak and not well-liked by others. In short, even bullies care a lot about others’ affection and don’t want to lose it.

Gender also plays a role. For example, the study finds that at this age, bullies only care about not losing affection from classmates of their own gender. So when boys bully boys, it doesn’t matter whether girls approve or disapprove. The same holds for girls. Moreover, boys will bully only those girls that aren’t well liked by other boys, regardless of what girls think about it, and girls will do the same in their bullying of boys.

“To understand the complex nature of acceptance and rejection, it’s necessary to distinguish the gender of the bully, the gender of the target, and the gender of the classmates who accept and reject bullies and victims,” according to René Veenstra, professor of sociology at the University of Groningen, who led the study.

Source:
Sarah Hutcheon
Society for Research in Child Development  

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/183661.php



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