Yeah, I teared up reading about it and I'm tearing up writing about this. I just find it so upsetting the way bullying and the mean girl culture gets worse and worse. I was bullied pretty badly as a kid myself. In grade school, I tried to fit in with the popular girls, but since I didn't have the right clothes, parents who spoiled me, I loved reading and was therefore a nerd, and I was friendly to "uncool" people, I took a lot of crap. My "friends" made fun of me constantly and intentionally did things to hurt me like "accidentally" burning my forehead while curling my bangs. So by the end of sixth grade, I'd decided I was over it. I was just going to be myself and if that meant being "uncool," I wouldn't care.
This went well in seventh grade as I'd started junior high and was meeting more girls who were into different music and didn't think loving to read was a social crime. I'd joined stage crew but decided to try my hand at acting during the summer play. That was when I came up against a group of mean girls again. I wasn't one of them and in their mind I didn't deserve to try out for the play. They used to chase me home from camp every day. Fortunately I was a really fast roller-blader. I tried to act like the torment didn't bother me. I still had a good group of friends. I still remained involved in theater (those girls actually went to a different junior high so I didn't have to deal with them after summer camp and the theater kids at my junior high were much nicer). But I was hurt, upset, and scared on the inside. It was after that torturous summer that I started cutting myself and struggling with depression. The bullying from both girls and boys during my junior high years set me up for major self esteem issues in high school. And of course there were times during high school when I was called slut for dating the wrong person or people gossiped about me. I survived, but I literally bear the scar of my low self-esteem: I cut the word "Slut" into my upper arm when I was sixteen.
So that's when I read Phoebe's story, which sounded like a version of what I went through, my heart just ached. I really wish schools would do more to stop bullying. I really wish society wouldn't encourage girls to attack each other in order to feel better about themselves because I think it does that with every magazine article or gossip blog that mocks a certain celebrity's weight or personal issues.
I wish I had some sort of solution for this and maybe some of you have some ideas. All I've got is this: Be as nice as possible to everyone you know. If you have a bad day or insecurities, find a way to cope that doesn't involve taking it out on other people. And if one of your friends does something to upset you, TALK TO THEM, don't spread rumors or badmouth them behind their back.
And yeah, I'm definitely cooking up a mean girl storyline for one of my future projects because I think talking about these issues and keeping them in the open is key for finding solutions.
Hugs to anyone who has had to deal with anything like Phoebe Prince did.
ETA: After posting this, I was sent two interesting links. Fortunately it looks that some of Phoebe's tormentors will be facing consequences. Here is the information, though unfortunately this is all happening too late to save a young girl's life. A former judge also emailed me after reading this blog entry and told me about this book that he wrote about cyber-bullying. I haven't read it, but it might be worth checking out, it definitely sounds interesting because as the author says: "Only through education and awareness can we fight cyberbullying."