- Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Irish immigrant, killed herself after being relentlessly bullied.
- Contrary to popular belief, bullies often have high self-esteem.
- Bullies can lose their moral compass when driven by their peers.
The story of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Irish immigrant who killed herself in January after, prosecutors say, she was bullied relentlessly by her South Hadley, Mass. classmates, returned to the international spotlight this week after indictments were made public of nine teenagers on various charges including stalking, statutory rape and criminal harassment.
The charges raise the question: Why do people bully?
"It provides these kids with a sense of power," said Catherine Bradshaw, a developmental psychologist who studies bullying at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. "It's a way of pulling your core group closer and putting someone else out of it."
"The simple reason is it shows that they have power over others," agreed Marlene Snyder, Development Director for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in the United States, based in Clemson, S.C. "The reason that they do it repeatedly is that they are getting away with it. Nobody is calling them on their bad behavior. When they aren't called on it they think, 'Well, it must be O.K.'"