Beyond Bullying: The Phoebe Prince Case

Mental health issues and teen dating drama make this a complicated matter.

It appears as though bullying wasn’t the only factor that led to Phoebe Prince’s suicide in January.

According to Slate.com, Prince, the 15-year-old South Hadley High School freshman who took her own life Jan. 14 , had attempted suicide in November 2009 and school officials knew about her mental health struggles. Additionally, she engaged in self mutilation (cutting).

The author of the Slate article goes on to opine that although Prince certainly should not have been bullied by her classmates, her “own behavior [dating two popular boys who had girlfriends] made other students understandably upset.”

For those of you responsible for school and university safety, these kinds of dating triangles and their fallout are all too familiar. So how should campus officials deal with these issues?

Also, if South Hadley High School administrators knew about Prince’s mental health problems, were they obligated to be more proactive in getting her help? If so, what should or could they have done?

There are no easy answers to these questions, and I feel for any school administrator—or parent for that matter—grappling with them.

If you have any suggestions on how this tragedy could have been avoided, I’d love to hear from you.

Read the full article.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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