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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. BulliedMom says:

    One more comment. In my previous comment I state that this woman “has no proof of anything that I have done.” Let me clear up this statement: I haven’t done anything. She just tells people lies about me and cries crocodile tears. There is no physical evidence because I haven’t done anything she claims!

  2. Kathy says:

    Hasn’t this gone on long enough? Why do people think it is something new? I am a 1970 high school graduate & the memories are just as stinging & difficult as if they had just happened to me. It DID change my life too….it made me an introvert & afraid to stand up for myself until I was much, much older. But, long-term it has made me a champion for the underdog. I will always help someone if I can because I have been in their shoes & it’s horrible.

    Dr. Phil, why can’t you or someone with your background, bombard the media about this subject? We hear all about obesity via the news & have a TV show on the subject – Jamie Oliver – who is truly taking a stand on prime time TV & is making a difference. The show is wonderful to watch!! We have enough “groups” with “after-the-fact” help, but what about getting so angry or passionate about the people enabling the bullying to continue? Teaching the kids in a class (thought this was already in place) isn’t going to do any good if teachers, administration, police, or parents turn a blind eye!

    Please don’t let this subject fade into the background. Enough is enough!!!

  3. Barbara says:

    Bullying is a topic I know all too well. Wether from my own personal experiences growing up (interestingly some of my bullying came from teachers), to being a parent and seeing my child bullied, this is a topic I could discuss for hours and still not run out of stories, experiences and opinions.

    The one thing I truly wish I could convey to ANYone who is being bullied (and it happens not only at school, but in the work force, among social groups and does not distinguish by age), is to KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!! Know the person you are inside. Like that person. Love that person. RESPECT that person. What others say or do to you cannot affect WHO you are. It just shows their ignorance. Don’t let them sway you from who you know you are.

    Also, realize this about bullies. They are cowards and they are insecure. They seek to make themselves feel big and better by picking on someone they “know” they can pick on. When you stand up to them – direct eye contact, assured body posture and with a confidence that YOU know within YOURSELF that they are wrong – they will generally leave you alone. They have a fear of being bested or embarrassing themselves in front of others. So when you stand firm against them, at the very least, they will have a worry that if they continue to push, they just might lose.

    There is strength in numbers. I realize that bullies, when they feel they have ‘lost face’ may try to retalliate. They often act in packs with pack mentality. Keep your friends close. Again, a bully will act only if they feel confident that they will win.

    Regarding these cases in the news of teens who succumb to the bullies, it breaks my heart. It makes me outraged that the school did nothing. As a parent, I have seen similar. I spent 2 years in and out of the school administrators office, trying to resolve an issue we were having with a bully. The answers we would get from staff (teachers, office staff and Principals) ranged from, “He has anger management issues” to “Your child just needs to understand that this other child comes from a bad home. He doesn’t know any better.”

    It finally took extreme measures on my and my husband’s part to resolve these issues. I personally confronted the father (and was threatened – apples don’t fall far from trees). My husband and I both met with the school administrators and explained that since they obviously could not control this bully and handle the situation, we had instructed our son to handle it. In the process, the ONLY phone call I would expect from the school would be in the form of acknowledgement of the event, but no discipliniary actions against my child. With instructions from us, we empowered our child with the right to defend himself – not start anything, but to defend himself the next time this child assaulted him. Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t condone violence. But I condone being a victim even less.

    It took only a couple of days, but sure enough, a phone call came from the school requesting our presence at the office. This other child (several belts into karate lessons) had taken a swing at my son. My son defended himself. The school was prepared to suspend my child for a period of time as mandated by the county rules. I protested, citing the number of times we had tried to remedy this situation. I am happy to say that the school did NOT punish my child.

    On the flip side, I have two kids and like any child, they have their own personal moments. I try to teach them how their actions affect others. I teach them that they must OWN the words that exit their mouths because once spoken, no matter how sorry they may be afterwards, they can never erase them. They will always be out there. However, they are not responsible for the words that others speak. As long as they carry themselves with dignity, integrity and respect, then if someone says something negatively about them, I tell them to ask themselves, “Is that true?” They must answer it honestly. If it IS true, then perhaps they need to reconsider some of their actions. If it is NOT true, then the opinion is based on ignorance or lack of knowledge and can be ignored.

    It breaks my heart to hear stories of teens taking their lives because of the abuses from others. I am glad that you are raising awareness to this subject. I would also LOVE to see some shows about assertiveness training perhaps. There are methods and mannerisms that can be learned to make people less likely to be a victim. No, there is no way to prevent someone being a victim 100% of the time, but there ARE ways to diminish the chances significantly!!!

  4. Michelle says:

    Dear Dr. Phil

    I think we need to address teenage bullying, such as that in the Phoebe Prince case, starting in Elementary schools. I have two children, aged 7 and 10, and bullying at their school began in the FIRST grade. Unfortunately, educators do think at that age that “they’re just little” and “they don’t really understand”, but those kind of excuses allow the bullying to go unchecked. My daughter is in the fourth grade now and is on the receiving end of a lot of verbal bullying, often right in front of the teacher with nothing being done. Our school undervalues social and verbal bullying, really only taking swift action with physical bullying causing bodily harm. When verbal and social bullying is condoned in elementary schools by not being treated the same as physical bullying, we cannot expect a light switch to go on once the students reach the 7th, 8th , or 10th grade and them to suddenly realize that what they’ve been doing for 10 years is wrong!

    I also agree that some onus has to be on the parents. Today I’m reading reports and quotes from the mother of one of the accused in the Prince case that her daughter never did anything serious to Phoebe. Is it a wonder that, if her mother thinks calling other girls names and threatening them via text message is nothing serious, the daughter felt it was okay.

    I am hoping that the Prosecutor in the Prince case wins several convictions against the students. I think it’s the wake-up call the education system and parents need. However, I think the educators at the school also need to be held accountable. Educators should be, first and foremost, stewards of our children’s physical and emotional well-being. The educators at Pheobe Prince’s school failed as stewards and educators are, as I type, failing all accross the country wherever they are condoning any type of bullying, at any age.

  5. Madison says:

    Kids who bully and continue to get away with it then grow up to become adult bullies. Bullying doesn’t just stop when they are kids. It isn’t some sort of ‘rite of passage’ It is a behavioral dysfunction.

    I hope this also opens doors to workplace bullying. this is commonplace as well and does not get any attention in the media for discussion. The institute for Workplace bullying has been tirelessly working to shed light on workplace bullying and the negative fallout effects it has on company workers and bottom line when employees leave because a company upholds a bully.

    This situation is so sad with this little girl and I agree with Dr. Phil, the parents should have been charged right alongside their little devil spawn kids. I refuse to believe these parents of these evil little kids were unaware of their teen’s personality, but like a lot of parents they probably tuned them out, dismissed their kids behavior and were not actively engaged in their teen’s lives.

    I’ll bet they are now more involved in the lives of their kids than they ever were before, but too late now. The world knows that you suck as parents and that your kids belong in jail for KILLING another human being because that’s what they did. And that’s something that they have to live with for the rest of their lives.

  6. Judy Palmer says:

    Dear Dr. Phil, I want to tell you how excited I was when I heard you say that learning not to bully should be part of the “school curriculum”. I have been saying that for the last year and to my surprise, I had never, up until a day ago, heard anyone say it or think it. So many useless things are taught to our children today that really and truly will never help them in their future. They are however being taught useful things like how to balance a checkbook (in 6th grade though ?), the “Go Green” program, culinary classes etc., but they are not being taught the basics like how to keep your hands to yourself, and to not call names, which eventually leads up being beaten up or worse, dead.
    My 16 year-old niece has been bullied for the last 3 years and I wonder sometimes how she has managed not to take her own life, not that she had never thought about it though. Things have improved thanks to the diligence of her parents and the school board putting their foot down and following their “zero tolerance” policy.

    I believe that a class should be put into the curriculum from Kindergarten through 12th grade and it should be called “Social Skills”. This is where you are taught the fundamentals of being thoughtful, courteous, polite, respectful and more.

    Let’s face it, you need a license to drive a car and to purchase cigarettes and alcohol, but you don’t need a license to bring a child into the world and a lot of people having children today can’t even take care of themselves let alone be responsible for bringing up a child the “right” way. THESE are the kids that are coming into the school system and turning it upside down and ruining the precious lives of our children.

    “Social Skills”, it’s simple, we just have to put it into effect now.

    Thank you,
    Judy L. Palmer

  7. Judy Palmer says:

    Dear Dr. Phil, I want to tell you how excited I was when I heard you say that learning not to bully should be part of the “school curriculum”. I have been saying that for the last year and to my surprise, I had never, up until a day ago, heard anyone say it or think it. So many useless things are taught to our children today that really and truly will never help them in their future. They are however being taught useful things like how to balance a checkbook (in 6th grade though ?), the “Go Green” program, culinary classes etc., but they are not being taught the basics like how to keep your hands to yourself, and to not call names, which eventually leads up to being beaten up or worse, dead.
    My 16 year-old niece has been bullied for the last 3 years and I wonder sometimes how she has managed not to take her own life, not that she had never thought about it though. Things have improved thanks to the diligence of her parents and the school board putting their foot down and following their “zero tolerance” policy.

    I believe that a class should be put into the curriculum from Kindergarten through 12th grade and it should be called “Social Skills”. This is where you are taught the fundamentals of being thoughtful, courteous, polite, respectful and more.

    Let’s face it, you need a license to drive a car and to purchase cigarettes and alcohol, but you don’t need a license to bring a child into the world and a lot of people having children today can’t even take care of themselves let alone be responsible for bringing up a child the “right” way. THESE are the kids that are coming into the school system and turning it upside down and ruining the precious lives of our children.

    “Social Skills”, it’s simple, we just have to put it into effect now.

    Thank you,
    Judy L. Palmer

  8. shirley says:

    I am raising a grandson 14 yrs.old He has a brain injury caused by shaking baby sym.by a former stepfather.I am very protective of him and do not allow him to be with the kids in our neighborhood because of their bad behavor.I
    went to his school to talk about him being bullied by another student and the teacher told me he was treated that way because I did not let him interact with enough children. I think he is a follower not a leader. I panic to think of him being involved in the bad behavior of the kids in this neighborhood.So yea they do take it out on him.Thanks conserned Grandmother.

  9. Melanie Babendreier says:

    I am a 7th grade English teacher. Earlier this year, a student brought a loaded gun to school because he couldn’t stand being bullied any more. Fortunately he showed it to another student who promptly told the principal, and we avoided a tragedy.
    I heard a lot of blaming yesterday, some of it towards teachers. I want to say that I don’t know one teacher in this school who would ignore a student being bullied. I know that if I hear any mean comments or see ANYTHING that looks like bullying, I immediately react – I intend for my classroom to always be a safe place – for every student.
    What we struggle with, though, is that the bullies are secretive and the bullied don’t talk for fear of retalliation. It is all very much under the radar, even though we, as teachers, are always watching and always listening.
    We do care, you see, immensely. Our students are ours for 7-8 hours each day, and we want them to be safe, to learn, and to want to come back tomorrow!

    Thank you for reading this.
    Melanie L. Babendreier, Triton Regional Middle School, Byfield, MA

  10. My children are now 31, 25 and 19. They all attended the same high school at different times. All 3 were bullied, terrorized and mistreated for 4 years of high school. I spent almost as much time at the school as they did. My husband and I talked to the administrators, counselors and teachers about the bullying. One of the counselors asked if our son was gay, and suggested this might be why he was being bullied. Then she thought maybe it was the way he dressed. We told her that his sexual orientation was none of her business and his clothes should have nothing to do with his bullying.
    She said boys will be boys. He should start wearing clothes like the other boys and start hanging out in the mall where they did and maybe they wouldn’t bully him so much.
    The principal suggested peer counseling. The peer counselors were the elite students who told the bullied kids to shake hands and get over it.

    My daughter attended from 1998 to 2002. She got the same advice for her bullying.
    New principal, same counselors. Make friends with your bullies, they’re just trying to be friends. Maybe you were standing in the hall and it was an accident. These are nice girls from good families. What was the implication? That she wasn’t? These girls are on the honor roll, come from well to do families, and have never been in any trouble. Well neither was my kid. Maybe you misunderstood, maybe you’re too sensitive. Blame the victim seems to be the standard procedure. And if a teacher didn’t see it or report it, it didn’t happen. After all it’s their word against yours. Who should I choose to believe. Let it go, get over it, ignore it, go back to class.
    Oh yeah, and come back tomorrow for another round.

    My second daughter attended the school from 2005 and graduated in 2009. She was slammed into lockers, pushed down the stairs and sprained an ankle. The bullies claimed it was an accident and their punishment was to carry her backpack while she was on crutches. After 2 weeks, it was back to bullying. We talked to counselors, the bullies were called in and told the counselors they did nothing wrong. Since they were part of a popular group, he chose to believe them and told my daughter she simply misunderstood them. By this time, the school already had a 0 tolerance program for bullying. It was all lip service to appease the parents of the kids being bullied. It got so bad on certain days, my daughter would stay in a crowd of her friends to avoid being bothered. She never walked alone in the halls and when she did get bullied, the teachers turned a blind eye, and she refused to go to her counselor because of his attitude, that she was a born victim.

    The guidance counselors all had the belief that these 3 kids of mind were born victims, had a target on their backs and they were trouble magnets. All 3 were questioned during their term of attending this suburban school, if their parents were
    abusive, negligent, divorced or just didn’t care. They tried to blame us as parents for our children’s victimization. They were surprised to learn that my children attended the theater, took piano, had a social life outside of school. They assumed because we are a working class family, that we were the cause of our kids being bullied.
    I saw only a part of the show on bullying because I became so enraged because after all these years, it’s still going on. The bullies get in school suspension, or no punishment at all. They can say an insincere oh so sorry, and it’s gone and forgotten.
    The zero tolerance policy is a major joke. The bullies know what to say when caught
    and the bullied get tired of being a tattletale. I always knew when my kids were bullied. They told me. I have never seen such sadness in anyone in my life. I always thought school was a safe place where my kids could learn. I was wrong, but I always let my kids know I would do anything to help, even if it meant I had to go to school and meet the administrators every day.

    No kid should have to endure the hatred and take abuse from their peers. They shouldn’t have to wake up and hate the day because it’s another school day.
    I thought high school was supposed to be the thing you cherished long after it was done, not forget it like a very nasty memory.

  11. Brenda says:

    Dr Phil,
    I am sooo glad someone is speaking out against bullying. I was bullied starting in 5th grade by a girl in my class and while my music teacher separated us my 5th grade teacher never made sure we were always separated though my classmates helped me some. I was also picked on thru middle school (the worse years of my life) to the point that I became borderline anorexic to fit in and be superskinny even though I was already thin but people called me fat and ugly so I just wanted to be model skinny and pretty. I began hating school whereas I’d previously loved school. I never told anyone b/c I felt they wouldn’t do anything and in 8th grade when I did tell a school administrator that a girl was threatening to beat me up nothing was done! So that just proved my earlier suspicions. I was picked on in high school as well and my senior year began walking the 3 miles home b/c kids on the bus were threatening to beat me up at the bus stop after school. I became severely depressed and seriously thought about suicide b/c I felt no one liked me or cared about me and no one would mourn me anyway so what was the point of living? Also, I had lost myself in trying so hard to fit in I still struggle with finding myself today 10 years later.
    Bullying is a major problem and the kids will be kids mantra needs to STOP NOW! I really appreciate your emphasis on this subject and hope to see you continue to bring this problem to light in future shows and become a voice for those of us who were bullied and too scared to stand up for ourselves as well as those kids being bullied now and in the future. They need a voice and I applaud you for trying to be that voice.

  12. Gina says:

    Dr. Phil,
    This show really opened my eyes to what I have been trying to do for many years and that is protect my child from bullies. As a single parent none of the adults, principles or teachers in the school would listen middle school came and went we tried privite schools and public school. I finally had to home school for awhile when I did send my child back it was the same all over again. The principle wouldn’t my child was tormented and blamed up until the end of 8th grade and then was attacked by a bully two days before 8th grade ended he alng with the bully were charged by police and my son was ticketed and threated by police that if there was anymore trouble he would go to jail. I have since moved away from that town and to a new State we have resource officers from the police department who rome the halls and watch for trouble. My son is now at the end of his 10th grade year and is doing great 9th grade was fine as well. I still hear parents say things to there children like they need to just ignore the bully but that is easier said than done. I was glad Dr. Phil that you said that it is important for the child to tell and that parents need to react in a appropriate manner to protect their children.

  13. Kelly Clark says:

    I live and work in the next town over from where all this happened. Its a sad and terrible thing what happened to Phoebe. I don’t think the parents of the teens who bullied should be help accountable for their children at all. Those kids new what they were doing, regardless of how they were raised, they know right from wrong. I can only hope that the court systems punishes them to the full extent of the law. I’m talking serious jail time. I’m not talking about making an example out of them I’m talking about getting what they deserve. I hope you have found peace Phoebe.

  14. I applaud your production staff Dr. Phil for this timely topic.
    I’ve worked in the field of education for over thirty years…most of them in the heart of the “hood” so called. Bullying is alive and well. Students pay little or no regard for the feelings of other students. They can say some of the most hurtful things and come to physical blows over some of the most trivial matters.
    In most cases I’ve been in contact with, it crosses genderand socio-ecomnomic levels…someone already produced a show on how these kids play. You wouldn’t call it play, but it blows your mind, how “twisted” these kids have got it!
    I love what I do, but the way kids treat kids now a days is not much different than 30 years ago except more kids do it, and the kids are getting better at it…

  15. Lolamom says:

    I watched the show on bullying yesterday, Dr. Phil. You just seemed baffled why the teachers and administrators in Phoebe’s school seemed to do nothing to address the situation. My daughter was picked on all throughout her 12 years in the local school district. Maybe not to the extreme of people who appeared on your show, but it did have an impact on her. She is 25 years old now and married. She has a college education in business. However, she graduated from the high school with a severe case of low self-esteem and probably will never have much of a career because she does not want to work in any type of place where she may come across these types of people. By the way, she was in the gifted program and graduated with a near 4.0.

    In the early days she was ridiculed on the school bus by various neighborhood children. They would call her down the street to play and then hide when she got there. Of course, their parents were oblivious. By the time she got to high school, she just felt like she never would fit in and retreated into her own world.

    By “these types” I mean the kids who were popular in school. You know, the cheerleaders, the athletes, the all around great students who got all the recognition by teachers and the administration. These are usually the culprits when bullying occurs. The teachers and administration either find it hard to believe their star students would do such a thing, or in many cases, these students have befriended many of the adults in the school and have personal relationships with them. These students will go far in the world because they are master brown nosers. Bringing in gifts for teachers and finding anyway to suck up.

    If any of the lesser social class students were accused of such behavior, there would be immediate action taken.

  16. Noell MacKenzie says:

    My daughter is 6 years old and is currently in Grade 1. She has already been exposed to bullying and it breaks my heart. It literally started in Junior Kindergarden when she was 4 years old. They always managed to tease her about something. Her hair was too curly, her name was funny, she didn’t have the same running shoes as the other girls, her packsack didn’t have the RIGHT Disney Princess on it, etc. Things have gotten worse over the past two years and it’s taking its tole on our household. Our 4 year old son is now subject to her bullying him, and my husband and I have zero tolerance for that kind of behaviour. How she is being treated at school is how she’s interacting with her little brother and we are constantly correcting her behaviour. I’ve bought books geared for children that address bullying, being shy, treating others with respect, sibling rivalry, and acceptance with their self image. We’ve been to the school, spoken with the daycare teachers and spoken with our daughter about what’s really going on. Maybe we were mistaken and it was OUR daughter and not the other children? Maybe SHE was provoking their behaviour and this was just their reaction to something our daughter did? We all know children can be ruthless and mean, especially when their own parents aren’t around to witness their behaviour. But she was not contributing to the bullying at all. We know our daughter may not be perfect…but she knows the difference between right and wrong, and we are doing our best to raise our children to treat others the way they wish to be treated. And nobody likes to be bullied!

    Now I myself tend to be a magnet to a bully. Apparently being kind, bubbly and helpful to people is not acceptable anymore in today’s society. Even as an adult, I have been the target for years. Every office has one person that is the “alpha”, and for what ever reason she never liked me. No matter how nice I was, how cheerful I was, how much baking I brought in, it was never enough to make friends with her. I have actually shared my experiences and feelings with my daughter, and I saw that look in her eye of “you mean this happens to you too mommy?!” That beautiful little face seemed so sad for me having to go through it. But I encouraged her that her family loves her and told her about all of the good qualities she possesses, and that’s all that mattered. Stay strong and don’t be afraid to be yourself. And if anyone touches you in a way that makes you feel angry or sad or scared…come tell me right away!

  17. debbie says:

    this is aweful i have 2 boys that were bullied my oldest over his weight and my youngest over his heart monitor now is this right something needs to be done about it

  18. Sharon says:

    Dr. Phil;

    Let me share with you the last few years my kids have had to go through. My son who is currently 9 has been bullied since kindergarten. He has attended 5 different schools due to bullies. This isn’t a problem of him letting me or the schools know of what is going on. It is the problem that the schools do absolutely nothing!!! In first grade there was a boy who went to the principals office everyday sometimes a couple of times. Every time he would turn towards the class and would whisper that he would be back. I was in the class and bore witness to this. He would spit on my son, he would throw things at others, he would turn over desks. He beat up a 2nd grader who was trying to protect my son. It wasn’t until he hit a girl in the chest who had a pacemaker that he finally got thrown out. In 3rd grade my son went to another school and a kid in another class accused my son of still his fake money. The bully’s teacher said that my son didn’t take it because she did. This kid could not let it go and for 3 weeks he would get others to yell at my son until he sat down on the ground crying. Then he would sit on his head. Yes, teachers and duty aids saw all this and did nothing. This boy would even go up to my husband who is 6 feet tall over 200lbs and told him off about my son. My son would get kicked in the shins everyday by another boy in the lunch line. The list goes on and on. My husband and I would go to the schools and were told different stories. We had to go to his recesses everyday to make sure he was okay because they didn’t have enough duty aids and they would spend that hour on their cell phones. So, lets blame the schools and their policies. When my child walks through those school doors I trust that they are in a safe place. These kids need to know that when they do tell that something will be done. The fact that nothing happens is when they don’t feel safe and won’t talk. When these bullies have more rights then the other students do then there is the problem. These schools go around bragging that they are a “No tolerent school” then I expect them to be! Then a lot of the bulling will stop.

  19. monica says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    My heart goes out to Phoebe’s family and all the other families out there who have had this tragedy happen to them. I want to applaud you on your show on bullying and suicide, you did a terrific job. Bullying is a huge problem in our society today, and should be address before it becomes a catastrophe. However, I don’t think bullying is a peer pressure problem, I think the root cause of bullying begins in the home. In most cases children that are bullies are modeling what they see at home. Parents should take some responsibility for their children behavior. Whenever a report of bullying is made, it should be investigated promptly, and the child/children and their parents should be giving a warning notice that such behavior will not be tolerated under any circumstances. If they don’t adhere to the warning, then they should be expel from school. “No one” should be subjected to those types of harassment. Over fifty years ago when I was in school there were kids who would pick on each other, but nothing like what is happening today. Secondly, kids these days are given too much power and too much freedom to do whatever they want. Parents need to have more control over disciplining their children. There should be a line drawn between abuse and discipline, and that would enable parents to monitor and discipline their children whenever they behave inappropriately, without the fear of being put in jail. Many parents are afraid to even speak to their children for fear they will call the police or social services on them, so they do whatever they want to. If we as Americans are going to be the role model society that everyone look up to, we have to make sure we clean up our own backyards, before we clean up the backyards of other countries. We have to set an example for others to follow. We cannot do so while our children are committing suicides because they are been bullied at school, while our children massacre each other on high schools and college campuses, While these radical groups are emerging in our society and using the internet to recruit members, while our children cannot even play in their yard because of pedophiles. America need to wake up and take drastic actions to protect our children and our society at large before it is too late.

  20. Jackie says:

    Dear Dr. Phil:

    My heart goes out to Phoebe’s family. I pray that in time they find some peace. I was a victim of bullying in elementary school and jr. high. In elementary thankfully a teacher stepped in and stopped it and in jr high my sister actually knew the brother of my bully and had it stopped. As a parent of an autistic child my biggest fear is that he would be bullied — not only in school, but outside by the other children. We did have an episode last summer of a child who does not live on our block (all the child on our block know my son and treat him as well as can be expected – never bullied or teased), he lived one block over, made fun of my child in front of him. My child did not understand — I immediately went to the child and told him to leave my child alone and leave the front of my house. I knew where he lived and went right over to his mother and told her what happened. The mother who was friends with one of my good neighbors was embarassed that her child acted this way. She apologized to me and told me it would never happen again. And it hasn’t. She informed her child about my son’s disability and made him aware of it.
    It comes from the home. Children see and hear everything. Parents need to be good examples to their children. Trust me when you don’t think they are listening and observing you they are. They mimic, repeat and do what they see. I understand that parents have to work today, but they should still be able to monitor what their child is doing on the computer, texting, etc. I blame the school also. Why weren’t the parents of the bullies brought in for a meeting.
    Laws need to be passed that include internet, texting, cell phone bullying/stalking etc. This should never happen to another child or family.

  21. Berney Vonk says:

    At 61 years old, I am just now finding out that the reason I am unable to forgive people and unable to confront people for fear of making them angry stems from being severely bullied by the same group of kids from grade school through high school.

  22. 3kmom says:

    Bullying in the new era is worse then it ever was when i was a kid. In the 70s it was done to your face. Now, is all digital.. online, in text and 100x worse than ever before. it seems as though kids feel they can say what they want to anyone because it isnt face to face. i have had kids on facebook tell me to f*** off b**** because i corrected someones spelling. kids. 14year olds. talking to an adult that way. what happened to respecting elders.
    the other problem is control was taken away from teachers in the schools. the no tattle tailing policy is WRONG. everyone is afraid to speak up because no one listens. back in the good ole days, we were afraid of our teachers. it was a healthy fear with a large mix of respect. we were also afraid of our parents with the same mix. and that kept us inline.
    my daughter is the victim of bullyiing. she is a 14 year old beautiful talented ballerina with a bright future ahead of her. we homeschool, and i thank god every day that i am able to do so. the past year she has started making friends in the public school system, and she has made a few good friends, but very few. the bullying started this past fall when she started dating the exboyfriend of an ex friend of hers and hasnt stopped since. she has text my daughter and called her every name imaginable, told lies that has cost her friends, spread rumors, made her life hell in every way she posssibly can. it was her friend who told me to *** ****** in facebook. and this girl thought it was comical that her friend talked to me that way. i have since blocked and removed this girl but since her other friends have tried to add me and harrass me.. (and before people comment, i never add kids to my facebook, if they request me, i will accept, but if problems occur i remove them. for the most part, the ones i have on there are good kids. but this girl turned out not to be. so i removed her).
    i fear what happened to phoebe will happen to more girls. i recommended to a school councelor that they look into bring “Rachels Challenge’ into the school to teach the kids, teachers and parents about bullying but was told that the school is doing enough to help these kids and was reminded of how much they do and how hard their job is. i have been asked my many kids if i could homeschool them because they are tired of the drama and bullying that goes on in our schools. and a few friends of mine have pulled their kids out because their kids have begged them to. so it really doesnt sound like the school is doing everything they can
    i just remind my girls every day of why these kids bully. its for attention and acceptance because they dont get it at home. its sad but its true.

  23. Michele Holt says:

    You know in reading the comments on the blog, I am just reminded of the severity of bullying that occurs in our schools. The parents who can not only relate from past experiences of their own childhood but in hearing about their children facing the same treatment is distressing. However we must not stop with the momentum of bringing a stop to this epic problem. We can not stand by and allow the schools to ignore or downplay this matter any longer! I myself can relate to everyone on this blog as I have a 14 year old son Evan who is bullied in school and has been since Kindergarten. I have threatened the school system with lawsuits over the incidents but thankfully because I will not stand silent, I now have the support of the Principal and Asst. Superintendent for the area where my son’s school is located. Sadly though I am greatly concerned as to what my son will face once he attends high school. You see my son Evan has a stuttering problem in addition to a growth deficiency, so even though he is 14 he looks about 9. We have gotten him involved in karate for self esteem and that has made a difference. I say to everyone posting or reading these comments to get involved in your schools and community and let your voices be heard on bullying! Don’t be hateful but be strong and respectful so the focus stays on the matter at hand, bullying! God bless all the parents here and Dr. Phil for advocating this problem!

  24. kim says:

    Dr Phil
    My son stutters as he gets older they still make fun of him, he will be 21 on the 19 of april, he works 2 jobs and no matter were he’s at it follows him. he has put up with this so long i am afraid he will explod or hurt someone, help do have any suggestions?

  25. E Keisler says:

    We live in CA and have a wonderful son of 19 who is currently going to college. Sadly, looking back over the years, I can’t remember a time when our son wasn’t the target of extreme bullying. It started in 2nd grade and continued through his high school years. We moved a couple times during those years, so I suppose his mid-year transfers to new schools helped make him a target, since he’d have that “new kid” stigma.

    Our son dealt with the full range of bullying: verbal, physical – even cyber bullying. The most common bullying involved him being labeled as “gay”. Nope, he’s not. We (the family) have never been able to figure out where this “gay” labeling came from. He’s strapping guy, good at sports and great with people. Believe me: since elementary school, all he thinks about is girls. :^) Nonetheless, the “gay” labeling was extreme.

    The bullying extended outside school. Our house would get vandalized (egged or tagged with obscenities), cars of kids would drive by shouting obscenities. Heck, one night a group of several kids decided to start pounding on the side of our house while screaming all sorts of foul things about our son. And the crank calls – we thought they’d never end. Basically, if there was an evening school event, we could expect some drive-by by a carload or two of jerks yelling awful things and throwing things.

    He was made absolutely miserable at school, constantly humiliated. It was so disgusting. A common event in our home was to find our son in tears in his room. They were tears of dread over going to school.

    Yes, from Jr high through high school the bullies would set up facebook and myspace sites dedicated to hating our son. Good lord.

    Did my wife and I sit still for this? Absolutely not. We would always talk to the school (teachers, deans, principals) – literally begging them to do something. Over all the years not once did a school stop the bullying – not once. What we would often hear from the school would be things like: “Is there something you should tell us about your son?” or (unbelievably) “perhaps something about your son is causing the bullying – he’s bringing it onto himself”. What these kinds of responses seemed to signify to us was that the schools bought into the “gay” rumors about our son and they assumed his presumed sexual orientation was the cause. Sheesh. Sure, we’d call the police when it made sense, but they couldn’t do anything unless they were standing there when the vandalism happened.

    High school was particularly tough for our son. It seemed like he was both being bullied by students and singled out by faculty as a trouble maker. The bullies took particular pleasure in setting our son up to be blamed for god-knows-what. You have no idea how hard it is to keep a kid focused on education when they are faced with such adversity.

    My son became seriously ill during the last quarter of his senior high school year. He was hospitalized for 10 days. We almost lost him. He was admitted weighing about 165lbs and came home weighing 135lbs. As soon as he got home, kids vandalized our house (tagged it) and kids drove by screaming obscenities. Absolutely heartless.

    In retrospect, what we saw happening at the schools was:

    - School faculty and staff would align with the bullies. I’m not sure if this was out of fear (of the bullies or their parents) or just because it was easier.

    - The school would assume the kids being bullied were doing something to motivate the bullies.

    - Schools would give some lip service to eliminating bullying but not do anything tangible about it.

    Then there’s the issue of the bullies’ parents. Yes, many of the parents were, well, pretty much bullies too.

    When I was a kid and some kid tried to pick on me, we settled things in the schoolyard the old fashioned way. I know this sounds politically incorrect, but it did work and it did teach kids (especially bullies) some basics about consequences. Nowadays, schools have zero tolerance for any fisticuffs – so the kids never get any experience in physical conflict. Thus they don’t know what to expect (so they probably expect the worst) nor do they learn the appropriate magnitude of the response. Perhaps this is why kids now reach of Uzi’s instead of puttin’ up their ‘dukes.

    So did the bullying affect our son permanently? Well, it sure stunted his schoolwork and it surely dimmed his view on the importance of going to school. Our son has no real trust in educators now [note: he's a taxpayer now - think about that teachers]. Our son is now quite a stoic guy. To counter all the awful things he just focused on his sports. He’s focused on racing downhill mountain bikes on the national circuit and is doing well. While he did recover from his illness, it’s taken him over a year to get back into condition – and he still has a ways to go. Nonetheless, the bullying did harden him. He does not trust people easily and his general view of the world is not exactly positive. This is heartbreaking to me because he’s got such a wonderful caring soul underneath the scars.

    E Keisler

  26. cindy says:

    Parents: If your children are being bullied and noone is doing anything to help you (school, parents, etc.) please take this very urgent matter into your own hands and remove your child from this dangerous situation. Have your child removed from the school and either find another school for your child or have your child enrolled in Cyber School or a home school program. We need to stop our kids from being tortured. This is what I did when I could no longer trust that my child would be safe at the school he was attending. This is torture and no person should have to deal with this. This torture scars a person for life.

  27. cindy says:

    After years of my son being teased, mocked, ridiculed and tortured I decided that the school would never help so I removed my son from this daily torture. I am sure that someone else is taking the brunt of their mockery now that he left the school. This daily treatment makes the kids that are abused angry and ruins their self-esteem. This is a crime and it should be given a stiff punishment for all who are involved and this includes the teachers, guidance counselors, principals, hall monitors, cafeteria personnel and other students who watch and participate. When a child sits by himself at pep assemblies, at lunch in the cafeteria, not included in group projects and not picked in gym class to be part of a group even though he is very athletic then why doesn’t someone help?????Why do teachers make kids pick teams or groups when they know that some kids are going to get their feelings hurt when noone picks them????Teachers do you not realize or do you just not care????? If group work is needed in certain classes please pick the groups and not let the kids do it….It will hurt the kids that don’t get picked..In gym class WHY do you let the kids choose teams????You are just setting up the unpopular kids for hurt!!! Parents can’t you see that your kids are bullies???Please have a talk with your kids to explain that bullying is a crime and is very very hurtful to kids that put up with it. Also, school shootings have mostly been traced back to school bullying….This is a very dangerous situation for all who are involved…This is becoming a bigger and greater problem than ever before because of the internet and facebook and MySpace. We need everyones help to end this forever. We need to have consequences for this behavior and they need to be criminal because bullying is a crime. We also need to hold parents and school personnel accountable….Let’s end this terrible terrible behavior so these kids don’t have to suffer anymore. Get your kids out of this situation if you do not get help from school officials and parents….We need to save our kids today………

  28. MARIE says:


    Thank you for addressing this issue. If you have to do a show everyday for people to realize the severity of the bullYing issue going on in our schools then do it. My daughter just recently changed schools because of a bullying issue. The group that bullied her continue you to go to school unpunished and are still trying to stalk her. I am angry that this continues. I now have to drive her out of the way to another school. Nothing happened to the kids doing the bullying. It took a year of torture and failing grades until my husband and I finally had our voice heard. I want this to stop. What more can a parent do to get our voice heard? This is what needs to be addressed solutions. When it is happening what do you do?

    Much love to Phoebes family stay strong and keep her memory alive..

  29. Linda says:

    The common thread here is that many concerned parents went to the school and talked to everyone they could and still nothing at all was done and it’s this part that gives these kids that are bulied the feelings of “helplessness”. They see their parents going to the school over and over again and – nothing stops and quite often it does get worse. I think parents get about two visits and then they become the “troublemakers”. Certain kids in a school are roaming around like a pack of wolves just waiting for someone to wear the wrong thing or do something they don’t like and it starts and can go on for years engaging more and more of the other students…..nothing done. What people don’t understand, or those who have not experienced it, it’s often the A students, those on sports teams, those whose parents are considered good upstanding citizens and no school is going to touch them no matter what they do and they know it the day you walk in. They often know what is going on before you even get there. The school admin and the bullies parents are often friends because it’s those parents who go to volunteer, send gifts, compliment and flatter and the school in turn uses these parents when anything happens as the pipeline to the community. As you know, Dr. Phil, they wouldn’t be doing it unless they get something out of it…The victim’s parents go the teacher, principal, superintendent and nothing is done except to try and convince the parent of the one bullied that maybe it’s their fault. THEY ARE PLAYING A GAME WITH OUR CHILDREN’S LIVES! Doesn’t anyone even believe that the teachers and admin at the school in South Hadley didn’t know? Yet they just lie about it and make it very clear to the parents that they answer to no one. It many ways it the school that is totally out of control and the perfect atmosphere for bullies to be created and encouraged by the silence and lack of action.

  30. Amy says:

    I do not agree that what happened in the APrince case should be called “bullying”. Taht is too mild a word for what happened to this girl. This was daily harrassment, sexual, ethnic and otherwise. This was stalking, physical threats, slander, assault (can thrown at her head from a car) and creating a hostile environment. This was not teasing or kids being kids or a normal right of passage. This was a school that was out of control. The administration was not setting the proper tone (as so many don’t) and they should step down. As a teacher, I do want to explain the difference in responsibility from a teacher and an administrator. A teacher is responsible for what happens in the classroom and the administrators are generally responsible for what happens outside the classroom. This is not to say that there isn’t overlap on these responsibilities and teachers are certainly responsible for reporting what they see in ahllways etc, however teachers cannot be in 2 places at one time.

  31. Sandra Leonard says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I watched a portion of the show on Bullying. I then turned to watch Glynn Beck. Your show presented a problem and THAT show presented a solution. It is my opinion that both the problem and the solution fells directly on the shoulders of ALL “We The People”. I have some homework to do!

    Are you serious about this problem—–really—–I think David Barton is a good place to start my studies at http://www.walbuilders.com. Are you serious about this problem with our children, their parents, the teachers: REALLY! We’ll see.

    Yes, I have been bullied by children ,teachers, principals and police. I am an adult and I THINK I AM NICE. Integrity from ALL would be nice including MYSELF! I have some serious studying to do.

    Good bye

  32. Kelly says:

    I watched this episode in complete horror, I believe that we as parents need to be proactive instead of reactive to this epidemic. I am part of the student life council at my sons school, which includes parents, teachers and students, we met this morning and I have added bullying to our agenda and I will be spare heading a plan to make this a priority with the hope of eliminating it completely from our school. I know your son wrote a book about this and would like the name of the book, this may be a great way to open up the discussion. Is there other material we could use and how would I go about getting this. I believe educating our parents, students and administration may be the key to saving a childs life. My heart and prayers go out to Phoebe’s family. School should be a place to learn not fear and I hope I never have to hear that a child felt that death is the only way out of being bullyed.

  33. Katie says:

    I sat and watched your show this week and had so much to say about it. I was bullied so badly when I was a little kid that I would sit in my room by myself everyday after school, and during summer vacation. I wasn’t just bullied by my peers but by my older brother and then my dad. I looked at my mom who was watching it with me and told her about the day I stood in the kitchen at 12 years old, alone and thought of suicide. My way out. I told her that I honestly can say now that had she not moved me to a new city (and subsequent divorce) that I really don’t think I would be here today. Because on that day the ONLY reason I didn’t kill myself was because I had and have the most amazing relationship with my mother, and I knew if I left her she would be so hurt.

    The bullying started when I was in Grade 4 and my best friend attempted suicide, she told me and I told my mom, afraid that she would try it again. My mom did what any good mom would do and called my friends house to speak with her mother. Her mom then, outraged that I had “butted” in began the attacks on me. In Grade 5 I lost my hair due to an illness and after a month I was back at school, my first day back I was told that no one wanted to be around me, and then while I was eating my lunch a classmate walked up to my desk and took a long drink out of his juice box… then spit it all over my lunch and face. Every day something to this extreme would happen. I would walk home and be “jumped” I had my lip split open, the neighbourhood kids would walk around me with cans, food, eggs anything and throw it at me. My brother would incourage this, and they would all call me some sort of name. Grade 5 and 6 was the same, I would eat in the bathroom stall, and walk home after everyone left, I would show up everyday late… and because I was late I would be in trouble. Grade 7 started differently, the boy that picked on me now 15 wanted to touch me… and I was 12, there he took me to a room and it just became worse.

    Grade 7 everyone hated me, I never spoke, I had one friend and I would spend my days afterschool in the mall where my mom worked. One day I got into an argument with a girl in my class and I was 70 pounds and she was 140… I was 4′10 and she was 5′5, and she was going to “kill me” that day, and everyone was going to show up. The class cleared and my teacher asked me to stay because he wanted to know why I was failing my class, the guys and girls sat outside my class and watched and listened to see if I would say anything… and with tears down my face I begged for him to tell me I was in trouble and would need to stay, but he sent me home with some extra work. He released me into the hands the the 5 girls in charge of taking me to the hills where I was to fight the girl twice my size. When I got there I saw my entire Grade 7 class, and alot of other kids, and worst of all the mom of my former best friend, handing rocks to each and everyone of the kids. She was walking through the crowd of kids telling them when to throw the rocks.

    I remember very little of the fight, I know I broke ribs, I know that I hit my head quite hard and I know that I was bruised… but what I remember most was that I saw a opening in the crowd and I made a run for it. I was a really fast runner and I thought for sure I could out run these kids. I ran for my house (about 4 kilometers away) as fast as I could, but just as I was running across the street the mob that was following me caught up and they pushed me in front of a moving truck.

    I tried to take my life back in 1997 when I was 13 years old because I thought what do I have to live for? I am NOTHING… but I now type this at a 25 year old woman, married to the man of my dreams, with two little children and I am happy and I know that I made the right choice to talk to my mom, to tell her I needed a way out. And when I grew up I started an anti-bullying campain in my former highschool, I have stood up and talked to hundreds of kids, and if I can save one life, one reader, one listener it will be worth it. Bullying isn’t limited to kids, but adults do it as well and this NEEDS TO CHANGE and the only way to change it is to have it right in front of our face. So thank you Dr.Phil for running this story, I hope you do more.

  34. DJ says:

    Wow where to start….

    Frankly i keep hearing about this in talk shows, news etc, how bad bullying is, how horrible it is for those people….this is something i understand only to well myself, but i don’t see how forever talking about it is helping….it’s been to many years of talk, disgust, horror…..but no action, how many kids have to die? how many lives need to be destroyed? how much irreparable damage needs to be done before Law and order takes this seriously?

    I’m in australia, it’s no different here than USA…and other places in the world i assume. I honestly think that all concerned should get there asses kicked into gear, it’s a known fact that nothing will get done unless something strong and harsh is done, so yes i think the schools should hold blame….I’ve personally watched teachers stand and watch fights, real physical fights and do nothing to stop it, it’s so much easier for people to just ignore what’s going on….

    i think damn right parents should take some blame, not only the parents of the children bullying but those of the children being bullied, I’m sorry, it’s horrible i understand that, but as someone who was extremely bullied as a child and frankly being an adult isn’t that much better, i know damn well there are signs any parent that takes the slightest notice can see! and anyone who uses the whole “i didn’t even know” BS lines, I’m sorry i find that hard to beleive, extremely hard to beleive. and teachers, there is just NO WAY teachers don’t know damn well what’s going on, they might not know all the details but it’s clear enough!

    Laws need to be made HARSH laws, think about it, if an adult treated a child with the same abuse they’d be put in jail….if someone is going to act like an abusive thug then they should be treated as one no matter how old they are! PUT THESE KIDS AWAY!

    what kind of life is this? where people fear to leave their own homes? yeah…..it’s a pretty pathetic existence…the time of talking is over!!! ACTION NEEDS TO BE TAKEN!

  35. Dana says:

    Dr. Phil,

    Again, I applaud you for standing up for those who can not stand up for themselves, those kids who are bullied and scared to come forward on their own. The parents who think that “it is nothing”. The teacheres and administrators that turn a blind eye.

    I am 44 years old and yet my bullying continues when I return to my hometown. I grew up in a very small town in Montana. I experienced horrible acts from a group of “popular girls” all because of I suppose jealously. It is amazing how these horrible things stick in your mind and stay with you throughout your life but I am here to tell you that they do! I can remember trying out for cheerleading and being very good actually and at the end of it all……having non other that one of the teachers call me to the back and read me what the “selected” student body wrote about me. Oh my……is this something that you tell a 17 year old girl? I think not. As one of the judges was an eighteen year old pregnant girl (however, that was exceptable since the father of her baby was the captain of the football team). I have my senior album and can see pictures were the girls are mocking me in the back. I can so relate to these stories as which you speak of today, for I lived this life of hell back in the 80’s and there was no one to help me. I ended up graduating early (Dec 83) and joined the U.S. Navy where of course I found the place where I was excepted and excelled and needless to say not judged or discriminated against.

    After serving 20 years you would think people would mature and grow up….however, this is not the case……as you speak of “where are the parents”…..well, I have returned a few times………back to my hometown and this last July was IT! I was bullied, harrassed and basically felt as though I was not welcome in the place I grew up and went to school. All because again…..jealousy being the big culprit here. I am still amazed that 44-45 year old woman can act so viciously and be so mean. What are they teaching there children? I have now closed the door on my past. I can never return. The wounds are much to deep to relive all of this again and for the life of me I can not believe this is still going on with women of my age and can only wonder what is going on in that small school in that little town.

    The whole system needs to be fixed. I believe it needs to start at home with the parents and then the school system and administrators need to have some training and education on the training of bullying in our schools. This horrible act effects a person for their whole life not just for the time while in high school. No child should be subjected to this horrible act and accountability should be placed where warranted.

    This has effected my life since I was a sophmore in high school and never left me. If it were not for the positive influences of the men and women for which I encountered upon entering into the U.S. Navy I might have ended up just like Pheobe.

    Thank you again for bringing this subject to the forefront of America’s attention…..we do have a serious problem and the system is BROKEN, IT HAS BEEN FOR YEARS.


  36. Marsharina says:

    Time for talk is great. Time for action far better. We honor teachers with “tenure” and as a result, many have become comfortable, complacent, reticent to act~not wanting to tick off the Principal, any parents or teens who might mess with said teachers car, or sue. Give the power back to the Principals and Teachers, hold these kids responsible for how they dress, how they act, how they talk, how they treat others in a civilized, humane society. ZERO tolerance for non-compliance of the basic rules of civility. And here in NJ, we have COPS in the schools! COPS! As if they chose a profession to babysit a bunch of punks (& punkettes) who fail to act like decent young men and ladies. If these kids cannot behave, they need psychological help, likely right alongside their parents. Never should any student allow a fellow student to be abused. Never should a Teacher or Staff member turn their head when they know something evil is going on. School is to learn and prepare for the future.Unfortunately, this young teen has no future, having been failed by those who should have addressed this most dire situation.

  37. Becky says:

    Two evenings ago I witnessed the actions of two very frightening young girls and it has haunted me since. In my 62 years, I have seen much more of the worst of people than most but, the actions of these two little girls were shocking.

    They were approximately aged 7 and 9 years, angelic faces, beautiful long dark hair, and the oldest was cuddling a stuffed animal. They were having dinner in a very nice restaurant with their Grandmother who seemed the epitome of what every grandmother should be. She was treating them to a special dinner before taking them home with her for the weekend.

    As we entered the restaurant for an early dinner, I noted that the Grandmother was the only other patron. Just then the two little girls came out of the ladies’ room holding hands, skipping, and smiling. I thought…’how sweet’.

    Was I wrong! After being seated by the restaurant owner, I went to the ladies’ room to wash my hands. I found the sink drain stopped up with paper towels and the water running. The soap dispenser had been pumped empty with liquid soap smeared on the walls, the floor, and the bottom half of the mirror above the sink.

    Several paper towels were thrown about, the toilet paper was unrolled.
    And, filthy words had been written on the soap-smeared mirror – only as high as a child could reach.

    The owner of this restaurant is a friend and we are very familiar with his attention to detail and cleanliness including very frequent checks of the restrooms. His attention to every detail and the fact that the sink had not yet run over to flood the ladies’ room made it quite obvious the vandalism had occurred just prior to my entering.

    I alerted the owner who became visibly upset and angry as one would expect. He immediately cleaned up the mess and I noted that his eyes never left the two little girls once he returned to the food service area.

    About 20 minutes later, the 7 year old went back to the bathroom. When she returned to the table with another broad smile on her face, the restaurant owner entered the ladies’ room and came right back out even more upset…he, again, retrieved the cleaning supplies.

    He then went to speak with the grandmother who left shortly thereafter with the little girls. A member of the wait staff thanked me for alerting them and stated that the vandals were indeed the two little girls and that it was not the first time they’d vandalized the ladies’ room.

    7 and 9 year-olds carrying stuffed animals…and vandalizing public places? Are their guardians clueless as to there this behavior is leading? These children are vandalizing restaurants in front of their own family members in situations where it is obvious no one else could possibly be the perpetrators, and they are repeat offenders against the same victims.

    I do not believe that 7 and 9 year-olds don’t know it is wrong to victimize and vandalize. What I do believe is that parents, grandparents, teachers and others are in denial for two reasons – one, it is easier to deny than take responsibility and actually do something that might be time-consuming, require courage, and be difficult – two, those who should take responsibility are also frightened and intimidated by the perpetrators even when they’re little girls only 7 and 9 years old.

    Perhaps the Grandmother was unaware, perhaps not. Either way, I have worried about her this weekend. I would not want to spend any time alone with those two little girls and I particularly would not want them wandering through my home while I was sleeping.

    My guess is that these two pre-teen sisters-in-crime have long since been bullies. What does the world have to look forward to as these two very sick children grow larger, stronger, and develop even more violent ideas of “fun”?

    “Kids will be kids” takes on a whole new meaning these days and people are dying as a result. These “kids” know that little, if anything, will be done when they are caught. If they do receive any form of punishment they look at it as if it were a joke and it only adds to their esteem amongst their peers…a feather in the cap.

  38. Kristi K says:

    Bullying is not OK!

  39. diane says:

    Dr. Phil…my eldest son experienced bullying, we changed schools, he is no graduating. My daughter has experienced bullying due to her struggle with insulin resistance, but I thought I had protected her by NO Facebook for her yet (8th grade). She is having a birthday party and invited her closest friends but of course one is feeling left out and this is one that been a huge part of the issue, so we said she could not come to the party.

    She texted my daughter yesterday and also left her a voicemail saying “thanks for leaving all that stuff about me on formspring.me. We did not even know about this site, so I became a member to see what I could find out. It is a site where you can post anymously on anybody’s site without a name. Someone had said horrible things to this girl anymously and then she blamed it on my daughter on this site. But what appalled me was the language the kids were using, how awful they were being to each other and how you could say anything you wanted without the person knowing who it was.

    We have had 3 teenage suicides in the North Oklahoma City, Edmond, Oklahoma area and one adult suicide and this website is a very scary thing. I have no idea if the Dr. Phil show knows about it, but I want EVERY parent out there to log on to it and find out if your child/middle schooler/high schooler is on the site…and yes, you can even follow people anymously which is also very scary from a sexual predator standpoint. I don’t know WHO sponsors this site or if anything can be done to change its parameters, but what I found on it was extremely upsetting!

    I sure hope you read this, Dr. Phil and staff, but if not, I will keep going to get the word out! Bless all of you who have kids! Love them and keep them close!


  40. Fran Gruno says:

    Dr. Phil, I feel so strongly about this subject. I would like to see some of these schools hire (male & female ) bouncers as hall & schoolyard monitors. I think when the kids would see the size of these people it just may make them think twice.

  41. Donna says:

    I was so pleased to hear that someone, has finally decided to punish these students that pushed this child, to the point of ending her own life.I just wish the same punishment would be delt to the parents,these children are there responsibility, you can’t tell me they didn’t know what they were up to, and if they say they didn’t know, they the parents should be ashamed of themselves.Far to many people who are supposed to watching out for our kids, are turning there heads and walking away ,no one cares enough.What a sad world we live in.

  42. Tina says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I watched your show on bullying and it was as if you were speaking about the situation that I am going through now. My child is in 5th grade and I have been in contact with the teachers, assistant principal, principal and then the superintendant. After all this the school consistently does NOTHING. The principal had the audacity to try and turn this around on my son. She stated that she saw it on video where my child pushed another down; however she did not have the video in the same class where my child was punched in the face. I went up the chain of command to get this resolved and failed my child. Can you please advise me what I need to do next?

    Thanks for all you do!!

  43. kelly says:

    Hello Dr. Phil,

    i missed the show regarding Phoebe, a fellow friend told me about it. My daughter is 15 years old and overweight. She has a few students in school who will not leave her alone, they call her fat ass everyday plus numerous other names, this has been addressed by the Principal and Superintendent, they are stating it is not Bullying it is arguing.. My daughter says nothing to this girl until she starts with her. Thursday, my daughter took enough corned the girl and yelled at her (never touched her). She did however swore. I had to have a hearing on Friday and they dismissed my child from School until she gets anger management classes she has to attend CLC an after school program or Cyber school. Is there anything I can do? My child comes home every day after school crying because she doesn’t know why girls are so cruel? I don’t want her to be in the situation where Phoebe was and the School is way OVERLOOKING what is going on.

  44. International Bullying says:

    I emailed you several years ago about the intense bullying my son endured when we were stationed at the American Embassy in Ottawa Canada. Maybe if you’d done shows about this subject then, lives may have been saved. Our son was a sophmore at a Catholic school in Manotik, Ontario, Canada while my husband and I were at the Embassy. He endured over a year of constant name calling, coin throwing. Two canadian boys were posting signs in the Science class saying vile things towards our son, when he got up to take the signs down, the science teacher told him to sit down, it’s freedom of speech here. The teacher never even tried to stop it. I went to the vice principal and got nowhere. He told me I could take my son, and my diplomatic status and go back to where I came from. The Regional security officer called the school and tried to talk to the VP and got nowhere as well. We threatened to bring in the Ambassador. It just so happened the family we rented our house from also worked at the school as the football coach and councelor. We told him what was happening to our son, he called those two boys in and told them they would never play football again, if they didn’t first apologize and then stop altogether. I was also told these boys family’s were rich and provided the school with much needed equipment and computers. Our son also has two rare blood disorders, no cure, no treatment for either. He had to endure his health and bullying. He finally came to me and told me he thought he needed to see a Priest. Which I took him back to the states immediately. He’s now a junior in college and is still fighting the after affects of that traumatic time in his life. I emailed Dr. Phil several times asking for advice and never heard from anybody.

  45. Kelly T Chapoton says:

    When i watched the show entitled ” Bullied to Death ” i was deeply angry as to what happened to the girl. I have a son who is having problems with being bullied at school. It got so bad that he was starting to have medical problems. I have to bring him to specialists and allergists. He even missed numerous days of school. I would go into it but unfortunately i don’t have enough time to get into it. Lets just say that he is going to counseling but after a certain month i can no longer bring him. I won’t have the gas money to get him there. I only work during the school year at the school. My son has also told me that even his own teacher don’t believe him any more. It really makes me sad to know that my son believes that no one will help him at the school any more because they don’t believe him. I was told by the principal at the school i work at ( my younger sons school not my older sons school ) that i should just let things go and hopefully things will die down. I have had parents tell me to put him in another school. ( which i am in the process of doing now) and some parents told me to tell the news media about my sons situation. I feel if i go to the news that not only will i loose my job but my child’s life could be in danger as well. Dr, Phil i need to ask you what do you think i should do about my sons situation. I will tell only you more about it but no one else. I want to try to keep my son safe till i can take him out of that school for good.

  46. Bree75 says:

    The best way to create a change reaction is through education and prompt intervention. Often, the way to reach our kids is not through long lectures or what they feel is purely educational. In the book, Please Listen by author Carrie Vanlandingham she does a great job of capturing just how important this topic is while still entertaining the reader without them feeling like there learning. I would recommend this book and this author for another Dr. Phil show on bullying.

  47. Jody says:

    My son was bullied in 3rd grade. My son was born with several medical problems, two of which are very rare and I was told he would not live a year and so he had to spend alot of time in hospital and at Dr. appointments. I did not find out that he was being bullied until I drove into my driveway and the principal, my sons teacher and the school counselor got out of a car with my son. They told me that he had told his best friend that he was going to end it and how and they were soooo concerned they brought him home. The reason for the sarcastic so is because of what happened later. From the visit with them I talked to our doctor and then sat up all night watching my son and talking to him. I did end up having him admitted to the psych unit at our hospital because I did not know how to handle it. It was during the hospital stay that I found out about the 2 boys that were threatening my son and since there was only one 3rd grade class he seen them everyday. There were pictures that these boys drew of them slicing my sons throat and one even brought the knife to school that they threatened to use and showed my son at recess. The police did NOTHING and the school decided to punish my son by making him change schools the last 7 weeks of the year NOT the bullies. I went to the school superintendent and he did nothing. We moved out of state for about a year but did move back home and we live in a small town so when he started jr high I found out that these boys were still there and forced the school to keep them out of class with my son and again with high school. My son is a senior and at the beginning of this year I again had to put my son in the hospital for wanting to kill himself and his grades were not great but they have declined and even though he is on medication and has a therapist he has changed in the last couple ofyears more so this year. I found out after the hospital stay that a suicide prevention officer had gone to the school and talked to him but they never contacted me at all and this was during June summer school. There has to be something better than this. I have heard tooo many times from the bullies parents that “kids will be kids” but then while talking to the parents I realize where they get the attitude they have. This needs to change and soon so there is no more loss of life because of bullies!!!!!

  48. I am a mom of a 12yr old , Bryce Nicole who has lost her entire 6th grade experience this year due to being relentlessly bullied by 5 girls. I have emailed the principal, Superintendent, Board of Ed, Police and now the prosecutor and Dr Phil.
    My daughter has been pulled out of classes she worked hard to be in, skips meals due to taunting of these girls, is under in home councelling due to depression and
    these girls continue thier lives. They too enjoy the Higher program classes (not made to step down from) One even boasts on Facebook how she Rules the town.
    My daughter went from a bubly popular kid to a quiet, angry , hating her life… acting out due to being angry. I have had the police in my home because she locked herself in her room crying- The school has asked to “keep this in the community” and “they will resolve it” well, it started September 23,2009 and it is now April 12th 2010… If anyone will help Im at wits end.

  49. Off to the mental ward says:

    Several of us were bullied during my junior year in high school way back in the mid-60’s by a brother/sister bully team. It did not happen inside the school building as they were fairly clever.

    It did happen at the school bus stop and on the bus in spite of the driver’s multiple attempts to stop it – she received little support from the school and, in fact, found herself in trouble for stopping the bus (safely off the roadways) and refusing to move until the bullies sat down and behaved themselves. We sometimes sat for 20-30 minutes before the bullies would give in and sit down, and then only because they had somewhere they wanted to go once they got home.

    I seemed to be their most consistent target for reasons unknown. They were both much taller than I and each was at least 70-90 pounds heavier. I was only 5′ tall and weighted about 80 pounds. I was kicked, tripped, slapped, hit, punched, books knocked out of my arms, hair pulled, spit on, etc. I refused to lower myself to their level and refused to fight back or get into verbal assaults with them. Perhaps this is why I was their ‘best’ target as the others they picked on would fight back verbally and physically which seemed to be what they wanted. I did my best to ignore them.

    I know the school knew what was happening because the bus driver frequently tried to get us all some help and protection to no avail. As the bullying progressed I told my parents again and again, also to no avail. I had my driver’s license and a car but they would not allow me to drive to school in order to avoid the miserable bus trip, accusing me of “exaggerating” in order to drive.

    The bullying got worse and worse and became more violent. Still no one came to our rescue. I tried to take matters into my own hands and, at the age of 16, walked up to the brother/sister’s front door and knocked. When the mother came to the door I calmly began explaining what her children were doing…she slammed the door in my face after calling me foul names and stating I was a ‘brat’ and ‘crybaby’.

    Big mistake to go to their home as they were waiting for me at the bus stop the next morning. The other kids were so frightened of them they were afraid to help me so I endured until the bus arrived. That afternoon I was assaulted on the bus and all the way, literally, to my front door by the sister bully.

    As I was waiting for my mother to let me in the bully continued to hit me and scream foul names. My mother…opened the door and told the girl to leave. My mother didn’t want to call the police and create a scene, and I was castigated for “doing whatever you did” to make “that girl mad” and yell foul words on our front porch in front of the neighbors. In other words, my being a victim of a bully was an embarrassment to my mother.

    The next morning I felt I had no other choice but to refuse to go to school. I argued with and begged my parents not to send me to school on the bus until the bus had come and gone, and still they wouldn’t listen. I was then physically dragged and forced into the family car – assuming I was being taken to school.

    Instead, I ended up at the local hospital and was committed to the mental ward for “observation” since I’d “suddenly” become irrational and “refused to obey”. I spent that day and night in a bare, cold room alone wearing nothing but a short, open-backed hospital gown while a male attendant watched me through a window.

    Fortunately, the next morning a psychiatrist contacted by my parents came to talk to me. I explained why I refused to go to school, the months of bullying, no support from anyone save the bus driver…. He immediately took me from the hospital back to his office whereupon he called my parents to come get me.

    When they arrived, they received an earful from the doctor! From then on I was allowed to drive to school but…the bullying didn’t stop. One night, the bully brother/sister team drove around the neighborhood chaining outside water spigots to the bumper of their father’s pickup truck, ripping the faucets out of the exterior walls of new homes while spinning deep ruts in manicured lawns.

    The police came but did nothing to the bullies other than lecture them so, of course, they continued terrorizing the neighborhood.

    The last straw was the evening I came home from a date to find blood all over my front porch, the house doors standing open, the car missing, and blood all over the floors in the house and garage.

    I was hysterical – a neighbor heard me and ran over to tell me that my parents had rushed my dog to the vet. One of the bullies had chased my dog around our front yard on his motorcycle and when she tripped and fell, he ran back and forth over one of her rear legs.

    After spending the night at the vet praying he could save my dog (he did!) I returned home in the daylight to see tire tracks all over the front yard along with bits of my dog’s skin and fur and pools of blood.

    My parents said, ‘leave it alone’. I didn’t; I had reached my limit and was no longer going to turn the other cheek while waiting for an adult to deliver help that was never coming.

    I took a BB pistol that looked very much like a Colt 45 and walked up the hill to the bullies’ home. I rang the doorbell. The bully answered the door with a big smile on his face, laughing and looking at his blood spattered motorcycle parked by the door.

    I covered the gas cylinder with my hand, pulled the pistol from behind my back, pointed it at his head, and told him if he ever set foot on our property again, ever touched my dog, ever picked on me or anyone else again…I would be back and I would pull the trigger the next time.

    Of course, the police showed up in droves at the bullies’ house about the time I got back to mine. Down the hill they came demanding to speak to me. My parents were furious with me. The police began questioning me as to what had happened, why, and asked to see the “gun”.

    I went over the entire story from start to finish. The command officer listened patiently, asked a few questions, and commented on how realistic the BB pistol looked.

    Then he turned and said he saw no reason to investigate further, told me to be careful, gave me his card and said to call him directly if I had any more trouble with the bullies…and that was the end.

    Never again did the bullies even travel down our street – they took the long way around to get out of the subdivision. They drove to school and didn’t ride the bus again. The last I heard they were both sent to prison in their late 20’s for running a pyramid scheme and bilking people out of quite a lot of money.

    That was 45 years ago. I never considered killing myself to escape the torment nor did I consider violence against the bullies until my beautiful, innocent dog became their victim.

    Violence is not an answer and I am not advocating it, but I felt then and still feel that I had no other choice since no one was listening, no one was willing to step forward to stop the bullies, and everyone was hiding their heads in the sand save the bus driver – all the victims’ parents, the bullies’ parents, the school officials, and even the police in the beginning – hiding their heads in the sand and hoping the bullies would move on and find another ‘hobby’.

    If that experience left me with any lasting effects there would be two – that I’ve always felt an empathy for bullying victims, stepping forward to stop bullying when I see it. And, a realization that we cannot blindly place our hopes of help in the hands of the adults who should be protecting children because they often fail leading to the most tragic of results.

  50. Allyn says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I just watched your current show over bullying and Phoebe’s case. I am outraged as well. I am an 18 year old senior at Ada High school, and I too have been bullied all year. I am a cheerleader, I make good grades, and am your all around high school girl. This year though three fellow cheerleaders, who are in my grade, decided to try and ruin my year. These girls used to be my best friends, and then one day just switched into trying to ruin me. They have involved teachers into not liking me, written facebook pages about me, started rumors, written notes, and just about anything you can do without physical harm. I have been to both the principal and vice principal several times, and all they say is to ignore it and act like it doesn’t bother you. My mom is a teacher at my school and has been gone to the principal more times than I have to get it stopped, But still nothing happens. How are you supposed to go to school all day with girls calling you names and forcing people not to talk to you? I have five more weeks left, but the emotional damage they have done to me will still always be here. I am attending OU in the fall, and at this point right now I honestly do not know if I have enough self confidence to throw myself into a school like that feeling the way I do. I have been to doctors, and have worked with counselors all year, and still I cannot get them to stop. At my school we have a zero tolerance policy for bullying in the school policy, which includes a page long list of details of things that my school recognizes as bullying. But when I brought the list to my principal with every thing on the page checked marked, and gave specific details of the ways the girls were bullying, all I was told was to ignore them. I have been to my cheerleading coach, who has the authority to kick girls off of the cheerleading team, or suspend them, and she does nothing. I have had certain teachers testify to the principal about what the girls were doing, but still nothing is happening. Every day I go to school and everyday I continue to be bullied. I honestly think that the only way to stop bullying in any school system is to put forth policies of punishment. Every school says they don’t tolerate bullying but yet every student sees it everyday. If a bully were scared that if he/she would be kicked out of school if intentionally bullying another student, I think this would die down. Every school is more than willing to take appropriate actions if there is a physical fight, but what about the silent beat down many students are having to deal with everyday. The only way to stop this is to create punishments, control students, and make things known that if you are caught bullying, that action will be taken. My school system thinks that if they can just survive the year that they won’t have to worry about the incidents anymore, what they don’t understand is that the whole school has seen what these girls have gotten away with, and it will continue and continue until something is stopped. Thank you for your show, it has made me realize that I am not the only one being bullied. Some kind of action needs to happen, and school districts need to take bullying and harassment seriously.

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