Thursday, April 8, 2010

trying people for someones suicide.

So the story of Phoebe Prince has been an interesting one to say the least. It is sad that a young girl felt the need to take her own life, but I have been having a real hard time coming to grips with the fact that they are trying others for bullying her to death. I am not even saying that that isn't why she killed herself, but I can't help but see a place for abuse of this legislation.

First off what is bullying? I tried to google the legal definition in Massachusetts, but couldn't find any so this will have to do.
"A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself."

Let me put out a scenario for you right. Lets say that your teenage son doesn't get along with your neighbors teenage son. They go to the same school, but are fine there, its only when they are at home that its a problem. They like to call each other names and bluster about like young adults (boys) are prone to do.
Now lets say that the neighbor boy kills himself. Lets ASSUME for this scenario it was unrelated to what your son is doing. Obviously there is no way to prove that, but for a second lets assume. Now his family could say well your son bullied my son and now my son is dead therefore its your fault. Well in this assumption we know that this isn't the case.

Obviously thats just a thing that could happen, but in there is one very important factor...THERE IS NO WAY TO PROVE IT. Bullying doesn't equal suicide. And its not even considered negligence or anything like that. Maybe in this case it doesn't apply, but the thought needs to be put forth before it becomes a law. What about the first person who isn't nice to someone, but isn't the cause of their suicide...what about them?

By making legislation against bullying they are saying that its never ok to do anything that anyone doesn't like. Can you say the beginning of the end????...I can


  1. I, however, cannot. I might be sleeping on the couch for this one but I'm in a combative mood for this one so here it goes:

    In the example you provided, the parents of the dead teenager could certainly sue the parents of his "friend", but you're ignoring the fact that they might LOSE the case. During the trial, they will hash out the particulars and see whose, if anyone's, fault the suicide is. Just as in the case of Phoebe Prince, they are hashing out the details and discovering that those kids made her life hell and, unfortunately, she didn't feel she could be helped. Ultimately, that is a decision she made, but I don't think the legal system making the point that those who torment the vulnerable in this country should be held accountable is the beginning of the end.

    I agree with you're broad point, which you've spoken to before with, in my opinion, varying degrees of success. That point is that the legal system and government should butt out of our personal relationships and personal choices. But I'm here to point out the nuances that apply, especially in this instance, that I think void that point.

  2. suing someone is different then having a criminal law. By trying these cases in criminal court there is much less leeway than in a civil court setting. I think that things like this should be left to unlawful death lawsuits, not criminal court. I dont feel that my kid should be put in jail because someone else's kid kills themself.

  3. Sorry MF, but I am 100% behind CW on this.

    First of all "bullying" can and will be defined by everyone differently. I mean for example if you are in high school and you are a part of the chess club and every day the quarterback of the football team walks by and calls you a loser, that is mean, and well it would suck to be the "loser", but is that bullying? In my eyes, no. It is a part of life, everyone is not going to be liked and loved by everyone. Now if an older kids drags you behind the school and punches you in the face and takes your lunch money, is that bullying?

    I am sorry that this girl felt that the best thing that she could do at this point in her life is die. But that was her decision, no one 'pulled the trigger' so to speak (not really sure how she killed herself). Now in this case, there are two males suspects that are accused of raping her. Is this bullying? In my eyes, no, it is rape. And guess what, we already have laws against that. The girl suspects are being put on trial to show an example for others around the country, which is sad for a couple of reasons. It is not actually going to make "bullies" really think before they act, just like the Glouchester pregnancy pact is not really making teens across the US really think before having sex. It is going to continue to happen. Secondly, who is appointed to make the judgement on these cases? (I understand that a judge makes the decisions in a court) But who makes the call to question someone for bullying? If I reject a co-workers expense report and they write a mean email back, can I call the cops on them and have them thrown in jail? If a person on the commuter rail doesnt hold the door open for me and I miss my train, can I take them to court? If one of my friends eats the last piece of pizza without asking me if I would like it, can I sue them? Where is the line being drawn of what is considered "mean", "bullying"? This is a slippery slope and the poor girls on trial and sliding so fast there is no way they will be able to stop before hitting bottom!!!