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March 31st, 2010 by Dr. Phil

Justice for Phoebe?

bully1'You may know that I’ve been on an intense crusade against teen bullying for the last several years. Right now, I am outraged! Bullying takes many forms. It happens with both boys and girls, on playgrounds and school buses, and now with cell phones and computers, there’s cyberbullying — omnipresent, electronic stalkers who can go after their targets day and night.

What’s happening before our very eyes is scary, and we are seeing sickeningly tragic results. Case in point, the recent heart-breaking and outrageous story of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince. Sadly, this is not an isolated story, as I have dealt with many heart-breaking stories of unchecked bullying many times over the last several years, some resulting in death.

If you’ve missed it, here is what has been reported in the national media: Phoebe moved to South Hadley, a quiet suburb in Massachusetts, with her family from Ireland. A freshman in high school, she had a brief relationship with a senior football player, which got her on the wrong side with a group of girls at the school, dubbed the “Mean Girls.” For three months, they went after her. They called her a slut. They confronted her in the hallways and pushed her around. One afternoon this past January, the girls drove past Phoebe as she was walking home. They shouted at her and threw an energy drink at her. “Phoebe kept walking, past the abuse, past the can, past the white picket fence, into her house,” wrote Kevin Cullen, a Boston Globe columnist. “Then she walked into a closet and hanged herself …You would think this would give the bullies who hounded Phoebe some pause. Instead, they went on Facebook and mocked her in death.”

Afterwards, there was the usual talk from some school administrators about how this bullying, sadly, happens in every school. The obligatory promises were made to hold more school assemblies to teach students about the dangers of bullying. Politicians made some vague statements about passing legislation to toughen anti-bullying laws. All good sentiments, albeit too late for Phoebe, and perhaps of some value if there is follow through.

But this past Monday, local District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel did something completely unexpected and unprecedented. She announced criminal indictments against nine teens who allegedly had bullied Phoebe — the charges ranging from criminal harassment and stalking to statutory rape. (Allegedly, at least a couple of boys who were indicted sexually assaulted Phoebe.)

Never before, say legal experts, has such a strong message been sent by a prosecutor about the consequences of teenage bullying. And though I have no idea if the charges will lead to criminal convictions in a court of law, I said, “It’s about time.” I hope that other prosecutors and police officers will take note of what happened to Phoebe. I also hope they think twice before dismissing bullying episodes in their own jurisdictions as nothing more than a case of “kids being kids.” The time has come to treat bullying as a public health issue — no different than teen smoking and drunk driving — and that means giving our teens a wake-up call.

But I do have one very big question for you: What do you think should happen to the parents of the kids accused of these crimes? Should they be given a free pass because they didn’t know what their children were up to? The police can’t monitor all bullying – especially cyber-bullying. But parents are right there to monitor what’s going on with their kids. So, should we hold parents of bullying and cyber-bullying kids more responsible? Is it crazy and reactionary to consider charging them criminally?

And what actions do you think should be taken against school officials who apparently knew what was going on? As I said on Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN on Tuesday night, “It’s always tragic when a kid takes life, but when it happens in a system that is supposed to protect children, it’s even more outrageous.” Phoebe’s parents say they spoke to at least a couple of faculty members and administrators. I’ll be curious to hear what the school has to say.

If you think I’m just going after the adults, let me make it clear that we’ve also got to teach our kids one major lesson. We have to teach them that if they stand by passively and watch someone being bullied, then they are just as guilty as those who did the bullying. We have to teach them that it is uncool to become a bully. And if that means arresting bullies and sending them off to prison, regardless of their age, then I’m all for it.

If a friend or loved one is talking about or planning to take his or her life, reach out for help now. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255) or go to DrPhil.com for more resources and suggestions).

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290 Responses to “Justice for Phoebe?”

  1. Angela says:

    The old childhood rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” -is probably one of the WORST lies we teach our children (aside from…”And they lived happily ever after” -but that is a different topic).

    The subject of youngsters killing themselves (or other kids) because of being bullied relentlessly is becoming more and more the norm –especially with “text-bashing” and public humiliation board like ‘My Space’, ‘Bebo’ and ‘Facebook’. Kids killing themselves, or others is incomprehensible, but knowing first-hand what bottling in years of abuse and taunting as an adolescent –not foreseeing that things WILL get better, I do understand the romance of revenge. I am not saying I condone it in any way –or ANY of the violent acts that have taken place in our schools; however, as an individual who suffered abuse from my peers at school, feeling as though I had no one to turn to & no one who cared…I can understand just the fantasy of revenge as I often daydreamed of it as I was being taunted. I also understand thinking that if my life would end then everyone would be happier. All the taunting would end and it would teach them (the bullies) all a lesson! I am so glad I didn’t act on any of this.

    I know first-hand what these youngsters are feeling -the emotional pit in which they feel trapped. My school bully started with a single kid who called me and my friend ‘lesbians’ on the playground in middle school because we were holding hands while we skipped to the monkey-bars. A year later two popular kids (one a teacher’s kid) who for whatever reason decided they didn’t like me and my friend decided to set this rumor in motion. However, the taunting wasn’t nearly as frequent or by so many students until a teacher joined in. During gym class my friend and I were late getting dressed out & the teacher asked if ‘us lovebirds were ready to join the class or if we would rather just hold hands the remainder of the class time’. This teacher was the father of one of the popular students who began the rumor. This opened the doors for what felt like the entire student body to join in -as other teachers stood by and watched ‘kids being kids’.

    I had very few friends, and most of them stopped acknowledging me because they didn’t want to be harassed. This went on only two years of high school because after the daily ridicule from my peers, and no adults intervening on my behalf, my grades dropped -as well as my attendance, and I had to transfer to a private school out of town. This not only affected my grades and attendance, but my attitude and self-esteem crumbled. I withdrew into myself and started to rebel –being more self-destructive than anything. Eventually, before changing schools, the Superintendent of the school did intervene -he called me to his office & notified me that I was failing and “should just do myself a favor and drop out like my mom did because I was never going to graduate”. He never asked why my grades/attitude towards school changed –just that I should quit. My parents put me in a private Christian school in another town where I DID graduate. No one knew me, no one harassed me. I got to be invisible again!

    After high school it took several years for me to regain my confidence. I was refreshing to wake up and know that I could walk down a hallway without someone pointing & taunting me. No whispers or threats, no laughing and mocking. Before this, I hated waking up, walking into school sent me immediately into a panic attack. My face would feel feverish, my heart would pound faster & faster in my chest, my hands would start shaking. I was paranoid that everyone was staring at me all the time. I hated being -I hated me. For whatever reason –it was as if graduation made everything disappear. Graduation seemed to change everything! As the years passed –those same girls who started the rumor seemed different when I would see them in public. Instead of pointing and whispering things about me to their friends, they would say “Hello”. They became different people, and I became a different person. My self-esteem changed. I really don’t care what people think about me anymore, maybe that comes with maturity. I like me –my friends like me –my family likes me, the rest doesn’t matter! Why couldn’t I see that in school?

    I just wish I could reach out to these kids & let them know that “this WILL pass”. I wish I could reach out to their bullies and let them know what damage they are causing. Why isn’t this type of sensitivity training part of every school’s mandatory curriculum? We are all capable of hurting another person beyond repair and should learn at an early age that this is NOT acceptable. I was lucky –I was too cowardly to act on any fantasy I played out in my head….THANK GOD!

    I would love to write my story to share it with other girls/boys going through this same thing…But I am not a very talented writer. However, if anyone can get this message across to a VAST audience -it is you and I appreciate your efforts in spearheading this growing issue! My story doesn’t necessarily have to be shared, but the message needs to get out there that “words DO hurt” – Words are the ‘invisible weapon’ we are all packing -shouldn’t we be trained to use that weapon properly?

    Thanks for your time -you rock!

  2. Susan says:

    Hello Dr Phil I have watched your program from the very beginning and I have to say that you have helped me in my relationships with others and my self and then you have this muslim family on your show and I feel not only was the principle lying but you did nothing to help her get her son out and I am so sick of the way muslim people are treated and I feel she needs to go to KARE and seek legal advise from an attorney that is on her side they are for the muslim people. And you can give her my E-mail address and I will help her because you didnt so many muslims are arrested and sent to jail to rot because they dont like them bcause they are afraid of them and that they are very strong in thier religion and they are good people and thats what people dont want they want the trash that life gives us now thats better. Please give her my e-mail and ask her to e-mail me or give me her e-mail and I will e-mail her I will get her help and if not she can put her kids in homestudys and let these little brat bullyers kill each other. Susan

  3. Gia says:

    I believe that Phoebe was very beautiful and she did not need those people to tell her different. They are the ones who caused her death, and they should be extremely ashamed. She was pushed around and treated like a dog. Let God give Phoebe justice, hope, and love.

  4. Dorothy Clay says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    It would be very useful to do a show about everyday Muslims — what they believe, why they wear head coverings — to bring understanding. It would be a good follow-up to have the Muslim family on your bullying show lead a discussion and have the opportunity to explain to all who they are. Schools should do this as well. The Muslim people themselves could do a lot to bring East-West understanding and debunk the view of them all as terrorists. Help me understand. I’m all ears!

  5. Mary Ann says:

    As a junior high teacher, it really gets to my very core when I see someone being a bully or someone whose is being bullied. I make it my #1 priority to address the bully and write it up as a disciplinary infraction. If I happen to catch a student being bullied, I have a one on one conference about bullies and they, the victim, giving their power away to this bully. I am ONE teacher and need others to follow. I know it is happening all over; I just can’t be everywhere to catch it. We need to empower our children with tools to deal with hurtful comments and harrassment. So many keep it silent because they are embarrassed or afraid to tell anyone. The sad thing for me is that when Phoebe’s death was publicized, our principal sent out an email telling teachers to talk to their students about bullying. I was so angry at that email. How dare you just (again) tell teachers to take care of it. Why are we not seriosly discussing bullying as a school and letting the students know it will not be tolerated at any degree. We as an entire staff, should firmly address bullying and let the students know that the Principal is extremely serious about this issue as welll as staff. How many teachers will actually take the time to talk with their students? What should they say? I threw aside the curriculum for a day and spoke to each one of my classes for the entire period. Out of that I got three students to come forward and tell me they are being bullied. The relief on their faces when they could finally tell someone. Shame on me for not stepping up sooner. This is one subject that will not rest with me. Life is too precious; children are so vulnerable. We are not giving our children tools in dealing with disappointment or hurt. Parents always step in and take care of the hurt and disappointment by finding blame in someone or something else. Their child will not suffer any emotional pain because mamma and daddy will take care of it. Children need to be taught how to handle disappointment and anger. That should start in the HOME. Students are not given proper emotional tools to stand up and accept a consequence for their actions. This has got to stop. How will these children handle disappointment or anger as an adult. Parents are responsible for their child’s behavior out in public.
    Schools need to take a firmer stance in discipline, as behavior and disrespect is getting out of hand. Schools main responsibility is to provide a safe learning environment which encompasses physical, emotional, social, and intellectual safety. As Bill Cosby states, Come on People!

  6. Jake hassotof says:

    I am one of them those who are bullied on school, My whole life got ruined by it.
    Cause of the bullies, i was getting stressed, getting headache’s and all that, I was starting to skip school day by day, it lasted 2 years long.
    I got help from several people, It got worse cause i had to get back there where i was getting bullied, I stayed at school for a week, then it happent again.

    So this is why my life is ruined. not having a good childhood time.

    P.S: I would like not to public my name except for this story.

  7. linda adams says:

    Should parents be charged in some way when bullying is involved? 1. YES if there is evidence they knew and did nothing. 2. NO ! I’ve seen too many kids pull the wool over their parents, the church, the school’s eyes–thinking the child was the picture of sweetness, honor and discipline. The only way to MAKE THEM RESPONSIBLE IN THE FUTURE is to put them on notice, educate them and warn them. This should be done THROUGH THE SCHOOLS !!!! Should schools be held rsponsible and their county/state fined? YES YES YES and damages paid!!

    We have all been hearing about gun control in the news and how safety shouldb e tought in the schools. I carry my gun for safety–i leave out of my house in the pitch dark each morning. At one point I carried it in and out malls, etc. but am now afraid of the law–must get concealed weapons permit first. OTHERWISE, I’m all for owning your own gun. but poor kids !!! Yes, anything to protect them-DO IT. I’ll never forget a TV documentry about 10 years ago which showed kind. or lst grade kids being taught in detail about GUN SAFETY AND DON’T TOUCH AND THE NEXT DAY guns were laid around their classroom only to have many of those same kids grab the guns, try their darndest to fire them, they aimed them in THEIR OWN FACES AND FACES OF CLASSMATES in play. WE NEED THIS KIND OF HELP ON AN ONGOING BASIS FROM SCHOOLS. AND YES, the schools will inturn EDUCATE THE PARENTS !!!!!!!!!

  8. linda adams says:

    This is to Jake–you’ve hurt too long. Your giving them the time of day validates them even now. Many of them have kids now and whether their kids are bullied or not–they’re praying they’re NOT because they KNOW FIRST HAND what it’s all about. In a case like this–you need to give them not another second of your life, your thoughts. This is a case when GOD will absolutely take care of things. I know those adults or young adults will see themselves for what they did to you and others every day and night that they think of their own kids and shutter at the thoughts that it will happen to them. SO THIS IS THEIR IMMEDIATE PUNISHMENT !!! For now–we’ll say they were stupid, and yes, mean–or following the crowd of mean and stupid “friends”. I believe that, although you don’t know this–many of them are praying foryou and begging you for forgiveness. Untill schools and the government take control of these actions, thereby educating the kids and parents, it will, sadly, continue. I see you as a wonderful, loving, kind person who wouldn’t hurt a fly. I hope that’s true. Have a WONDERFUL future. Work on it, ok? Counseling will help too!! Linda

  9. Julie says:

    I get sick and tired of people saying that the teachers in our community are trying to lessen bullying. My daughter was bullied everyday in Middle School. The teachers knew it. My daughter finially fought back and then she and I got called into the councilers office. They wanted the names of who had been bullying her. We gave them a list. Suppossedly these kids were “talked to”. The harrassment just got worse. The choir teacher let Hillary sit on the floor because the other sstudents were constantly kicking her chair. I could not believe it and called the teacher but got nowhere with her. The bullying just kept on. Hillary was bullied everyday in the hallways also. The next year when the bullying started I called the office and told them that harriassment ws not allowed according to the rule book and that I expected them to follow the rules. I was told that “hillary needs to learn the difference between being harrassaed and typical middle school teaasing”. My daughter was bullied unil she left the middle school for high school. Thank God she is now in high school. The bullying still occurs but Hillary has made friend and now tries to ignore it. She doesn’t confide in me anymore because every time I tried to communicate with the school the bullying got worse. Not all educators help fight bullying. I know first hand. Sometimes the teachers do nothing absolutely nothing to help the students who are being bullyed. Teachers turn there heads away from a lot that goes on in our school system, I am sure there are a lot of teachers out there that do the same thing.

  10. Callie-Lee Kuhta says:

    Way back in 1971 I to was being bullied in school. It happened in 6th 7th and 8th grade. It seemed everyone in the class went along with it. The teachers ignored it. It was the wrost years of my Life. In 8th grade I took an overdose of my sister medications. I wanted to commit sucide then go to school. I ended up in the hospital for 2 months. I am in Therapy today. I suffer from Post Tramtic Stress Syndrome and Severe depression. I only wish bullies knew what they are doing.

  11. Tanya Jarvis says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…..for standing up for these kids who are too afraid of their bullies to let them know that what they are doing is NOT ok!

    As a overweight child I was bullied at school and teased about my weight from grade 3 through to grade 8, kids would call me names and even resorted to mooing at me like a cow. This damaged me for a long time, and you are right this time is very lonely for the victim, I never wanted to go outside to play, and when I got older I never wanted to go to dances or any school events, I was very depressed and even thought about killing myself. To this day and I am now in my 30’s I am very hard on myself and dont really trust anyone, I dont have very many friends because I am always afraid that I’m not good enough for them to be friends with, when my husband tells me I’m beautiful and sexy I have a hard time taking the compliment, I brush it off.

    We have to reassure these kids that they will get through it, that they can tell a teacher or a parent, and make damn sure that if you suspect something we talk to our kids and make sure something is done about it. Too many kids have died because of other peoples words. Emotional scars last forever.

    I was always afraid to tell my parents, and when I did tell them they always said “oh, that person is just jealous of you” or if it was a boy that was bullying me they would say “he must like you thats why he is picking on you”, and nothing was ever done about the bullying years ago if you went to your teachers you were a tattle tale, and kids would pick on you ever more. I would fake that I was sick so I wouldnt have to go to school. We have to stop the bullying now.

    As a mother I would do everything in my power to make sure if my kids were being bullied its stop real quick, cause I would want my kids to go through what I did, and to feel the pain that I felt.

    If only these kids knew that their word hurt more than anything and the emotional hurt will last forever maybe they would think twice before they said mean and demeaning things

  12. Jan Begin says:

    I agree the parents should be held accountable. My six year old granddaughter was being bullied at the bus stop by all the kids there it was a set up before she had gotten there. With all the parents sitting in their cars not one of them got out of their car to stop thier child. I had to stop them from harrassing her. I called the school and was told it was out of their hands because it was before the bus got there and they wouldn’t do nothing to the children, not even send a letter to the parents requesting they watch them more closely while waiting for the bus. I called the Board of Education nothing helped they all said the same thing. I still feel my granddaughter safety is at risk everytime I put her on the bus.

  13. Rachel Zollbrecht says:

    As a 33 year old mother of 3 children: One son-10 and two daughters ages 6 & 2, I worry about bullying all the time. My husband & I have been raising our children to stick up for any child they see being victims of bullying. Parents must teach their children to treat others the way they want to be treated! So far we have not had any issues with bullying, sadly I know it will be happening all too soon at school. When my husband and I were in school he had some bullying done to him, and I was the type of kid to put a stop to bullying whenever I seen or heard of it. This I believe made me less of a target.
    The story of Phoebe and others like hers, break my heart and make me sick. These children need to be remembered also for who they were & not just victims of bullying. Students MUST stand up for each other until there is no one left to bully!

  14. Maria says:

    It is the concern and responsability for the parents and the teacher to stop this awful situation,childrsn get killed or commit suicide because we don’t,do absolutley nothing about ,is something that can be prevented PERIOD!!!!!! this girls mother should talk to her and embrace her and tell her every day she was pretty she was special…I was bully all my life and everyday I tell my kids still they are adults ,now how special how beautiful they are ( the contrary of my mother ) I was ugly and not wanted not good enough,is all she was telling me!
    The schools know this is a epidemy and they should have interactions ,classes ,everything that the subject matters BULLYNG IS NOT OKAY.if they follow all those precautions BULLY will not EXIST! period! the school and her parents ,and the bully’s parents failed!

  15. Jamie Jones says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I’m 29 years old, so i’m no longer in school. However, when I was in school I can remember being bullied on a daily basis. I was bullied for everything from my weight to wearing glasses. Sometimes I would come home and just cry or binge myself. I think that the people who bullied Phoebe should be ashamed of themselves. If Pheobe had gone to my high school I would have been happy to be her friend. I think that the people who bullied Pheobe where just jealous because of how beautiful she was.

  16. Marie Haupt says:

    Dr. Phil, Have watched you from the time of your very first show. You have helped me in many family situations. I just would like to share with you that my husband and I are one of the few of the happy married people and will celebrate 56 years of marriage this August 2010.

    Shared your joy of your first grandchild with you as our granddaughter also was expecting our 2nd great grandchild. Yes, it is one of the greatest joys in life to see the young innocent come into this world.

    Many times, there have been family situations that have happened, I would just ask myself..What would Dr. Phil say? How would he handle it? I quote you so often when you say “Past behavior predicts future behavior.’ So very true.

    Keep up the good work, just know that you are a help to so many of us. Life is not easy and it did not come with a set of directions nor can you return it at the Service desk. Just want you to know I TiVo your shows and therefore don’t miss them. Love seeing your wife at the end of each show.

  17. Mary Scott says:

    It is frustrating that bully behavior is tolerated on so many levels. I know a college professor who has told students that they are inferior in intelligence (less kind words) because they are athletes. Students are afraid to say anything because they want a passing grade and she has been there so long. This woman is unteachable because she has taught for so long she thinks she is “God’s gift to teaching.” On the other hand, I have had athletes in my class who had been told that in the past, but I expect them to do well and they do. The confidence booster in succeeding on their own (yes with studying and hard work) is a blessing to see. What I cannot understand is why we hand on and tolerate this behavior at all ages and in all professions.

  18. Talia Lodaya says:

    I was bullied very badly in middle school. The school had serious racial problems. I was new in the school and somebody lied and said that I called someone the “N” word. Seven girls immediately stalked me in the bathroom where I hid during lunch. It was almost as if they new in their hearts that I didn’t say it, they simply enjoyed the drama and mocking me. Everyday the buses would pull up and I would see them in a group waiting for the next victom to get off the bus. I lived in a severely disfunctional home so I could not go to my parents-they were a waste of time. I am now 34 years old and I have no respect for the public school system. When I moved to this rough part of town ( we lost our home in a ponzi scheme) the girls did not like me. One girl in particular hated the fact that a guy she liked -like me. I could not stand him but it didn’t matter, she did not like the attention I was recieving. I believe she was behind the whole thing. I totally understand what phoebe went through- I lived it.

  19. Monique says:

    There should also be a lot more punishment for those that do the bullying, because there are no real consequences for them, no severe ones anyway.
    You do it once, you get to stay after school, do it twice, you’re suspended for a period of time (depends on the sevarity of it), but third time is an immediate “kick” out of school, but that’s probebly illegal, as eveyone is entiteled to their educatian.
    So, if that’s not possible, let them do the whole year over or trasfer to another school, one for bullies, if that’s possible, can they pick on each other, ’cause bullies never stop, unless there are real hard consequences for them, I know, I was just like that. First I was bullied and then I became the bully after my 11th birthday, I still remember the day, because, eventhough I did the bullying, it was something I never felt right abut, but you go far just to fit in. Well, I fitted until I was in my second year of college (14/15), then I became my own person. Bullying is often just a selfdefense mechanism for their own insecurities anyway. When they grow up, most stop bullying. Those who don´t are still scared, in my humble opinion.
    (I´m not from the States, but it´s everywhere, also here in The Netherlands)

  20. D says:

    The correct term is “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will be the death of me” is incredibly true. My daughter and son were both bullied at the same junior high and it was mostly dismissed by the school. My daughter was harrassed and made fun of and told to go kill herself on youtube! My son was called a dog daily by one kid and the teachers ignored it until my son attepted to stand up for himself out of desperation and then the teachers noticed and disiplined my son. I think if the school is aware of the bullying and is not addressed and corrected by the school then YES they need to also be held responsible for what has happened. As for the parents, they also need to accept responsibility for what their children have done. They can’t say they didn’t know and if they really didn’t know then they weren’t monitoring their kids like they should have been. This is a tradjedy that could have been prevented! It makes me sick to my stomach because I have been the parent of the bullied child praying that my child doesn’t end their beautiful life out of desperation.

  21. One important nit to pick in the blog entry involves the statutory rape charges. IMO, these charges in this case are outrageous.

    The first boy charged was the senior who Phoebe dated, in the relationship that set off the bullying from the boy’s on-again off-again girlfriend. While the allegations are that later, he took part in bullying her over that relationship, there is no allegation that the sex was anything other than consentual. But according to Massachusetts law, it’s a felony for a high school junior to have sex with a high school sophomore….

    The second boy charged was a student at a different high school and no allegation have been made that he was involved in the bullying at all.

    These specific charges are part of a witch hunt, which makes isolated, new, depressed kids legally radioactive. The bullies should be punished for bullying. However, let’s not go after teenagers having sex with teenagers just because we can.

  22. Scott says:

    I have been a victim of people who committed suicide and i myself have attempted suicide. I’ve been hospitalized 5 times for thoughts or attempts of suicide. I am doing much better now and am living life to the fullest thanks to intense outpatient therapy. Suicide is a permanent fix for a temporary problem. Thing can get better if you work on it and most times they do. People thinking of killing themselves usually don’t want to tell anyone because of the fear of the hospital, people not going to believe them, or people saying things like “It’s all in your head”, “snap out of it”, or take it as a joke. Never take suicide as a joke or not believe it. Take it seriously if you know someone who want to end their life. convince them to get instant help or call your local emergency number such as 911 to get them instant help. And don’t wait, get them help immediately before its too late and watch out for warning signs and know what they are. If you or someone you know may have an mental illness get help before its too late or convice them to get help in non-emergency situations. the first step is to talk to them or talk to someone else that you can trust to talk to and have symptoms explained clearly. Do the same with a professional such as a doctor or nurse. Medication can’t work on its own either. Therapy is the other part of recovery along with meds working side by side.

  23. Dorie says:

    My daughter is just 7 and involved in the school’s community education programs of Near ball and basketball. There’s a girl who’s in these classes that is constantly picking on her. Her parents volunteer on the Nearball team and do nothing about her behavior nad a basketball where the school coach has been told also does nothing. I called the woman at communication education twice because no one would call me back, she told me that the girl’s parents are “so nice” and the the situation would be looked into. What a lame and inconsiderate excuse. It’s almost like they protect the bully, not the victim. Bullying jsut doesn’t happen at school, it happens during the summer school events also. What a pity!

  24. Karen says:

    I was a “victim” of bullying in high school back in the 60’s. It was not until only recently that I overcame the power and the pain of that bullying. Yes, suicidal ideation continued throughout my life for 58 years! Even in my own family, I was also abused in the same manner as I was abused at school. My mother, in support of my siblings would say that it was “just sibling rivalry” or that “boys will be boys.” She also participated in the same abuse toward me that they did! Well, I have no family anymore. I “divorced” all of them last year. Now, without further abuse to remind me what a piece of you-know-what I am, I am finally gaining a life of my own and becoming someone I ought to have been so long ago. People will never really know the true overall damage that bullying does. The “secrets” are kept by them, usually, forever!

  25. Kevin says:

    I agree that bullying need’s to stop. I live in a town where several boy’s were indicted for using a broom stick on lower classmate’s at a “football camp” apprently this had happened before at other camp’s. Finally, these boy’s who were attacked told there parent’s. Now all these boy are in “Prison” and other facillities for there participation in this act of “Bullying”. But, once this hit the new’s the rest of the school felt the water shed from what a few did, they were being bullied by the other school’s in the state. The Band went to preform at the State Fair Parade and as they marched by several student’s from other school’s would sing “Bed Knob’s and Broom Stick’s song as they passed by and I’ve heard of other time’s this happened. So what is happening about “bullying” in this school system I’m not sure but I’m sure a lot has happened to get to the problem now because the Kid’s parent’s are going after the school, the coaches, the parent’s who were at the camp when there child was attacked . So good luck to everyone who goes after the Bully and there Parent’s

  26. JANET says:

    I suppose it was because I was 12 and the family had moved from a sweet town where everyone knew everyone to a town in the middle of Long Island. I was marble champion from the town I grew up in; and totally ignorant about the facts of life, or which boy was the best, or anything whatsoever. It was like a different planet, and I was so naive, I didn’t even know what “making out” meant. The girl at our luncheon table read marked sections of Peyton Place (the hottest book at that time) but I didn’t understand anything. Gradually people knew how dumb I was and although the bullying then was not like the intense physical bullying now, I was given my fair share of being called every name in the book. One day had been from hell–vicious, verbally beyond my comprehension but since some of the kids had circled me and thinking it was so funny, I figured they didn’t like me. Duh! That afternoon I went home and without her knowing, I got a butcher knife from the kitchen drawer intending to cut my wrists. When I got to my room, I thought about it a long time finally deciding how happy they would be if they found out I was dead so I put the knife on the night table and fell asleep. After a time my mother came into the room to find me sound asleep so she woke me up for dinner she noticed the knife on my table. Her comment, “That’s where I left it. I couldn’t find it,” And that was the way it was left. The following day in school the bullying had gotten more and more mean and towards the end of the day while I was putting my stuff in my locker someone came behind me and smacked the back of my head with her notebook, that she knocked me out. I was out cold and now I assume teachers, principals, and other big wigs had to step over me not even pausing to see what was the matter. From the ages of 3 to 12, I was molested severely by my alcoholic father and some of his poker playing friends. I was used to be treated like a non-being. I found a good therapist when I was 29 and now at age 66, I am still with him. It is so difficult to have moments of flashbacks. I am a multiple personality with post traumatic stress syndrome. Probably always will be. But there are times when I think, you know Janet, with all you have been through you are a pretty good person. And sometimes I am convinced of it.

  27. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve never been a victim of bullying until this past year. I was a Freshman and extremely excited to be in my first year of high school. I made it into an elite all girls show choir group and felt so lucky to make it, especially because I’ve only really been to close to one girl since the 6th grade who is my best friend but she moved to a different school district leaving me girlfriendless. At the beginning everything was going well with the girls and I in show choir, I felt like I had many friends, the only problem was the girl who used to be a very close friend of mine but no longer likes me. What she made up and said about me spread like wildfire throughout the group. The next thing I know I’m being called a ’slut’ and a ‘hoe’ and other derogatory names. I ended up having to walk around alone during competitions. It was a very hard experience for me, I would go home crying a lot of times. I also had some other conflicts with the girls even out of show choir, the girls at school just treated me like I was nothing. I only had one girlfriend who I was really close with by this time. I had a few girls stand up for me but they never were really interested with hanging out with me. I had never bullied anyone before, I actually stand up for people being bullied many times and I just want the bullying towards me and every other kid to end. I am now a Sophomore and getting ready to start school in about a few weeks. I have made the even more elite boys and girls show choir group this year even though many girls said I didn’t deserve it, I’m excited but I’m very scared that I will be as miserable as I was and even my mom said if it were the same way this year she would take me out of the program for good. She contacted the my teacher in show choir and asked for him to change the way the girls are treating me but he barely took any action to it. He just said for them to stop the petty girl stuff publicly in class. I believe everything will work out better this year but I’m still so afraid of last year to repeat itself and I was even afraid to post this note.

  28. Carla says:

    I was bullied at school but what made everything worse was that my parents and siblings were bullies as well. I had no where to turn. Because of this, I think that parents of bullies should be held accountable if there is any evidence that they knew of their childs behavior and did not take appropriate action to stop it. I knew someone who was a teacher and she said that in college the students were taught to let children work things out themselves. I was angry and told her it was a dangerous way to deal with the problem. Two weeks later Columbine occured and she was defiant in her stance. Teachers and administrators need training in school about how to stop bullying before it gets out of hand. They need training regarding the effects of bullying on both the victim, the bully, and on society. They need to be held responsible if they do not take appropriate action to stop bullying that they see or that is brought to there attention. And lastly, the public needs to keep this issue very visible so that it doesn’t get forgotten. We need to keep working to change how bullying is viewed and dealt with. If not, Phoebe’s death will have been in vain.

  29. Leah2_ says:

    Dr. Phil: Thank you so much for bringing this important subject up for discussion. A Bully personality begins since early childhood and if left unchecked it grows like a malignant tumor and causes hurt and pain to so many victims. I agree with you; parents should be held accountable for their children’s behavior. This means if their children’s behavior harms others, the parents should be arrested along with their children. Teachers play an important role as well and should ALWAYS be vigilant and willing STOP bully behavior as soon as it is detected.

  30. FosterBoys says:

    Did ya hear the latest? Her preexisting mental health issues are being used to “explain” why she killed herself and to minimize the impact that the bullies had on her.


    She tried to kill herself at least once before and she was taking Prozac. So you guys can start bullying ME TOO if you want. It won’t be your fault if I kill myself. Blame the victim y’all.

  31. FosterBoys says:

    A man walks into a bank to rob it. He leaves empty-handed, but on his way out, the bank teller he held at gunpoint drops dead of a heart attack.

    He is soon apprehended. Can he be charged with the teller’s death?

    Before trial, it is discovered that not only was he using a child’s toy gun, but that the teller already suffered from a serious heart condition, for which she was taking several medications.

    I’ll come back later with the answer for anyone who’s interested.

  32. FosterBoys says:

    He’s committed felony murder. Any death that occurs during the commission of a felony is deemed as such, regardless of the actor’s intentions. As for her heart condition, she could have been on death’s doorstep because of it, but BUT FOR HIS ACTIONS, she would not have crossed the threshold that day.

    Makes you think about the value of a day. What might she have accomplished if she had lived just one more day?

  33. Jayson_Bryan says:

    I cant believe this. I myself am a teen who has been bullyed since a young age. I am a senior at Vsta Rdge High School doing a project called Senior Project. Its a research paper in which we get to choose our topics. I have chosen school bullying and am curently still doing resaerch on it. My teacher gave me the link to this blog and i had to check it out. I want to help those who are curently being bullied and stop the bullies from doing so. This whole thing is just rediculse and we need to do something about it. Aparently bullying is over looked by many people including the very witnesses that veiw it. I was just wandering if someone could tell me how to get in touch with Dr. Phil. I would love to talk to him about this.

  34. annette huneault says:

    This is a very sad case. such a lovely girl to be bullied like that.And it make me so mad what the heck are school doing about this? and these girls that bullied her what were they thinking? it got to the point where the girl killed herself over this. Shame on those girls that were responsible for this. if you could live with yourself after the girl killed herself because of your bullying then I say you have no heart whatsover.

  35. Jean Alan says:

    I am really glad to see that someone as influential as Dr. Phil is on a campaign to stop bullying and hope that others will add their voices to his. I was bullied all the way through public school and thought about suicide many times. I believe the few times I stood up for others who were also bullied only made me more of a target; my own sister said I brought this on myself and my home unfortunately was impossibly dysfunctional. I had nowhere to turn.

    Many years after high school I tried to kill myself by cutting my wrists. I was also diagnosed with being mentally ill and I know that I am. But it didn’t help when one day we were driving past a corner where there were a group of teenagers. For some reason they started booing and jeering at me and my husband as we drove past. I had no understanding as to why they would do this and when we got home I seriously considered suicide for the first time in over a decade. Why does the pain have to come rushing back in after years of silence? Why is the victim blamed every time?

    I remember back in high school I went to a teacher for help because of a guy who was constantly pulling my hair in class. She said that he had a crush on me and did nothing else even though I was in tears. In the school cafeteria the popular guys all walked past me where I was sitting by myself and piled their dirty dishes on top of mine. Maybe they all had a crush on me??!! Teachers are blind to what is going on….or are they? Maybe they were the bullies growing up and they still live that way vicariously or maybe they were just jealous of me and thought I needed taking down a notch. Who knows? The only desire I remember from back then was that I wanted to be left alone.

  36. KERI says:

    I agree one hundred percent that bullying needs to STOP!! I am a fifth grade school teacher. What many people don’t understand is that we really do care. I spend most of my day counseling and dealing with bullying situations. I always try to help my students, but we need more resources in our schools to help with this problem.

  37. shaffiate says:

    i,m the father of kristian the muslim teen bullied in staten island new york and i know when a child dont want you to know that they being bullied the parent can ask many times and the child will not say , we meet the teachers that know he was being beaten and they says to us nothing is going on in school .we did ask him over and over again if eny one is bothing him in school, he says no ,and when we meet teachers in school to ask about him, theys says that no nothing is wrong in school, we took him to the docter and 3 specialist ,we did mri . eeg , counseling, and he use to change in the shower .so we never see his injuries we though he was going a change of being 16 ,we suffered a whole year of watching became sad and lonly and could not do eny thing to help him,then went to high school and try to make a new start ,and see two of the kids in school ,one of the kids was in his class and one day the kid in his class started to throw paper at him and was calling gay again and had 2 new kids calling him gay also,so now 3 of them was picking on him again,so thank god he think to him self i can.t take this again,so he told me what happen in class and i call the the principal and they talk to the kids and but they did not stop and thats when he told me what happen in is 51 markham ,so he was trying to move on but ,because one kid think that he did not do enought to hurt my son in middle school and wanted to hurt him again my son talk and you will not beleive the horrors that my told me that they did to him,spit in his lunch pee in his bag hit him in front the teachers ,kickinh in the groin over and over again everyday now he is so sad he dont play music he dont go out alone he dont smile we love him so much but we cant give him ahug he dont want eny one to touch him and they hurt him so bad and for so long that he has no emotions ,some times i wish he would let open and just have good cry but .only time and god will help him ,

  38. Vicki says:

    I am a middle school teacher who is studying to become an administrator. One of the reasons I chose this profession was to do my best to put a stop to the bullying and teasing that occurs in schools. I had such a miserable middle school experience with no assistance from the staff that I vowed to do my best to make life better for at least one child each year so they would never have to go through what I had to endure. When I become a principal I WILL see to it that things will be done differently under my watch. I am hoping to influence others to follow my lead. I don’t buy the “kids will be kids” comment, and when I hear it, I promptly squash any thought that this would be OK. I proudly have my “ally” sign in the window of my classroom and have established my 7th grade pod as a “safe-space” for all students. I do my best to teach coping skills to my bullied students as well as my bullies. Bullying is simply not tolerated and there is no discussion about allowing this behavior. I have done inservices and my building knows I will not listen to the excuses or justifications about why someone did or said something. I have been in this profession 20 years now, and I am confident I can make a difference. More teachers need to have the courage to stand up for what is right and follow through with it, regardless of the parents and their influence. I am straight with my students and their families and will continue to be. If their child is a bully, I tell them. I offer help and strategies. If they are going to act that way at home, I can’t change it, but I will not tolerate it at school. Students are told to leave facebook, msn, etc., outside when the day begins. Kudos to you Dr.Phil for taking a stand on this issue. I wish more people would figure this out!

  39. Kylie Tyler says:

    Thankyou Dr Phill for giving victims of bullying a voice, and i agree with everything you have said. I think the school administrators need to be held accountable for not preventing such a tragety, we send our children to school and into thier care it is thier duty to provide a safe environment for them. As for the parents they to need to feel the full force of the law and be held accountable as do their children.
    As a mother of two children i am constantly checking there phones and facebook pages, we as parents need to be vigilent.

    I to was a victim of bullying as a child and have suffered psychological damage that has followed me into adult hood. I find it hard to make friends as i dont trust people and when i do they dont last as i attract the wrong people into my life and seek out the adult equivielent of a bully. As i sit here i am wondering if i still have a job tommorro because i finally walking out been unable to cope due to been bullyed.

  40. [...]  We have learned that students are committing suicide simply to escape their bullies.  Phoebe Prince hung herself due to harassment she endured through text messaging and Facebook.  In a historic [...]

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