Help me understand South Hadley…..

Last week a precious young life was lost in South Hadley, Massachusetts.  A lovely young girl from Ireland, took her own life after repeated taunts and bullying from fellow students in the public school and online.  The girl, Phoebe Prince, had relocated with her family from Ireland to South Hadley, Massachusetts.  That alone makes fitting in difficult, but it became unbearable with the added effect of bullying.

Today, the Boston Herald start a column with these words:

Parents and students furious at South Hadley school officials’ slow and secretive response to the suicide of a bullied 15-year-old high school girl are expected to descend on town hall tonight to call for the school chief to be fired.

Nearly 250 parents and students will protest at a meeting of the town’s Board of Selectmen, demanding Superintendent Gus Sayer be canned if he can’t explain “why bullies are not being punished” for viciously harassing Irish-born freshman Phoebe Prince, according to a Facebook post promoting the showdown.

Parents and students are furious over the slow and secretive response from the School Superintendent!  This is where I get confused – it was the students that were slowly and secretively bullying the girl, and they were doing it, in part, from the homes where the parents raised them.  The fault lies with the students and the parents – not the Superintendent.

I see this as a perfect example of the lack of personal responsibility in our lives.  Public school students bully a girl to the point of suicide.  They do so at school as well as from the comfort of their own homes via the phones and Internet devices that are supplied by the parents.  And somehow this is the fault of the Superintendent?  I just don’t understand that!

Why are the students upset by this?  They were the ones that went along with the bullying – many of them taking part.  The parents were completely negligent by their absence in the kid’s lives.  They never check their kid’s phone messages, IMs, texting history, etc.  They give kids phones and set them free to do as they wish.

Now, the answer to this sad story is that the public wants to tar and feather the school Superintendent.  They want someone to punish – even though it is they themselves that are to blame.  The parents failed to watch over the kids.  The students failed to be understanding and accepting of other students – and the result was a tragic death.

Here is my prediction – the Superintendent will be fired by the school committee.  The parents will be relived that they need take no action of their own.  Once again they have ducked the responsibility of having to do actual parenting.  The students will develop a false sense of security that this kind of activity will never occur again.  Then one day soon, very soon, more kids will get phones.  They will taunt and bully some other weak link until that person takes his/her own life and we will sit through this charade once again.

Shame on South Hadley, Massachusetts.  Shame on the students and the parents that are lousy examples of concerned human beings and responsible citizens.  Shame on them for pointing fingers at school officials when they alone are to blame.  Shame on the students for their missed opportunities to end the bullying.  Shame on the parents for giving their kids all the technological gadgets, but none of the intellectual and ethical values to use them properly.  Shame on South Hadley.

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