Phoebe Prince’s suicide has been attributed to bullying from six students at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts. The six students have been charged in being responsible for the suicide of Phoebe Prince. However, when a teen commits suicide, it’s a multifactorial process, and the parents can’t go without some blame.
I’m not suggesting that Phoebe Prince’s parents be charged. But at the same time, we can’t sit back and believe that parents have no influence in a child’s self-worth, either. In other words, if being bullied, of all things, could make Phoebe Prince kill herself, then we must wonder what kind of parenting and family dynamics were going on that failed in creating in this girl the motivation to survive her teen years, despite the bullying, graduate and go on to pursue her dreams — if she even had any.
I’m not blaming the parents of Phoebe Prince 100 percent; the suicide is multifactorial. But when parents make their kids feel great inside, feel hopeful and valued, they certainly won’t want to commit suicide. They may think about it when the bullying gets really intense. But thinking about suicide is a far, far cry from actually succeeding at it.
How many times have you read about, for example, obese teenagers suffering daily torment at school? Yet for some, the idea of suicide never crosses their minds because they know at the end of a painful day, they will be going home to a loving, supportive environment where they feel valued — a rich, nurturing home life created by parents who know how to “reverse” the day’s bullying. Did Phoebe Prince have such parents?
A reporter who has been following the Phoebe Prince suicide since February states:
But she was deeply troubled long before she ever met the six defendants. And her own behavior made other students understandably upset.
What is it about a child that makes him or her a “bully magnet”? It isn’t always being obese or unattractive; Phoebe Prince was actually a pretty girl. If she was, indeed, deeply troubled, where did this come from? How about tainted family dynamics?
When parents fail to instill a feeling of high self-worth in their child, and instead, we have a moping, awkward-feeling kid who questions his or her likeability, this results in behavior that school bullies will quickly home in on. Think about that. Recall your own school days: Who was the victim of bullies? Was not this kid weird or strange in some way? Makes you wonder what kind of parents he had. The kind who are constantly henpecking their child and making him feel full of shortcomings?
The kind who sling negative shots at their child day in and day out, making their child feel incompetent and unlovable? Sounds like a reasonable deduction to make. This is Psych 101. No PhD required to get this.
Phoebe Prince, indeed, was deeply troubled long before she met the South Hadley bullies. Her mother informed police that the girl began cutting herself in 2008; cutting is self-mutilation; a cutter is deeply troubled. In May 2009, Phoebe Prince began taking the antidepressant Prozac (antidepressants can increase suicidal thoughts in teens).
The girl had difficulty getting along with other girls while still living in Ireland. She cuts herself. She’s put on Prozac. Certainly, Phoebe Prince’s parents had some influence in these outcomes.
According to the reporter mentioned prior, Phoebe had all sorts of conflicts at South Hadley that apparently were rooted in her preoccupation with attracting boys. Many fingers have been pointed as to contributions to Prince’s suicide, and there are many contradictions and inconsistencies. But one thing stands out: Was Phoebe Prince’s mother able to help her daughter process all of her growing-up problems? Some mothers stink at this.
Meanwhile, Phoebe Prince’s father, all this time, had remained in Ireland, since her parents were separated. An absent father certainly didn’t help this intensifying situation. Nevertheless, many single mothers do a great job of helping their confused, hurting teen daughters sort out life’s woes and gain healthier perspectives on relationships, dating, jealousy, etc., and what should be a priority in a teen’s life (academics and developing skills, not chasing boys!). Did Phoebe Prince’s mother miss the boat here?
Phoebe Prince continued to have problems at South Hadley, all rooted in getting boyfriends — older boyfriends — a priority. Current and ex-girlfriends of Phoebe Prince’s boys of interest became increasingly entangled in the girl’s life. Did this girl have anybody to go to for emotional support and recalibration of life’s priorities? Why did Phoebe Prince feel that suicide was the only answer, rather than just pouring it all out to her mother?
Maybe she DID pour it all out, but then, how effective was the mother’s responses? That’s the big question. I’m taking it that Phoebe Prince’s mother (and father when they were all together in Ireland) grossly failed to teach the girl how to constructively deal with life’s hardballs. Yes, this CAN be done, even when the bullying reaches alarming proportions.
Like I mentioned prior, many kids are mercilessly bullied at school, but keep their eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to parents who succeed at giving these kids hope and inspiration to keep bouncing back up after life’s hardballs knock them down.