The Value of Phoebe Prince

“Where have today’s values gone?…appreciate simple moments like the first snow fall of winter or hearing the words I love you for the very first time.” -Phoebe Prince, October 2009

phoebe_sm2The case of Phoebe Prince, the young 15 year old who committed sucide after months of bullying harassement, is raising issues around the world with respect to school bullying. Locally, at the high school level, the RIH school board has a conduct policy that covers bullying.  Like many policies in schools the regulation puts a heavy emphasis on bullying associated with race, creed, or sexual identity, but lacks definition in common situations like that faced by Ms. Prince.

The bullying policy in the local high schools was discussed briefly during the extended, year long debate concerning conduct away from school policy. The heavily debated policy authorizing school officials to impose discipline on alcohol or drug use off school property ended with definitive consequences for those under suspicion . Unfortunately, acts of bullying at local schools did not warrant as thorough an airing even though more prevalent.

The bold move by the Massachusetts prosecutor to bring criminal charges against 9 students will continue to attract media attention, and statistics show there was a good chance these bullies would have been arrested for another crime.

While many applaud the indictments, many others wonder if prosecutors and law enforcement would have proceeded with filing charges had a public outcry not followed. Soon after the Phoebe Prince’s suicide, a Facebook page entitled “Expel the three girls who caused Phoebe Prince to commit suicide” was created – it now has over 26,000 “fans”.

The sad story of Phoebe Prince is being played out in the press, on television, the radio and Internet. It is undoubtedly a story that may never had been told without voices rising in protest…and a story that may never have been written if others had spoken up earlier rather than standing in silence.

Below is an essay written by Phoebe Prince for her English class last October. There is no hint of depression or isolation, only the insight of a 15 year old living & loving life.

Mind Over Matter / Value Essay

Where have today’s values gone? Everyone is so preoccupied with their electronic gadgets to appreciate simple moments like the first snow fall of winter or hearing the words I love you for the very first time. We live in an impersonal electronic society, is that what our values have gone to? We no longer appreciate simple conversations now that we have twitter and face-book. Personally I can’t believe that reading an email would have the same effect as speaking with someone face to face, making a moment.

I get into my pink fluffy onesie my feet tingle as they rub off the soft cushioned fabric. I head downstairs into the kitchen. The walls our heath green with various paintings of vegetables. I live in an old country house with a barn door and all the furnishings to boot. My fathers sitting at the dining table reading a thriller type novel as per usual with a half glass full of white wine next to him. The fire is roaring and the smell of hydrangea’s wafts through the air. I curl up on a chair adjacent from my father making sure to be cosily tucked in near the fire. He puts down his book and says, “Now what is on your mind tonight my dear?” From there on we start a heated debate about almost anything. Our conversations range from sex, drugs and rock and roll to matters of great importance such as ancient religions, politics and criminal justice. No subject is off limits with me and my father.

I click in my glossy silver i-pod into my speakers. I turn up the volume full blast, the walls vibrate from the sound of System of a Down screaming out “Chop Suey”. I’m sitting in my room on my mattress (I broke my bed one evening whilst jumping on it). My walls are covered with doodles, posters, lyrics and memories. I have the lyrics to “I love college” by Asher Roth printed on my walls. I start off by listening to some Arctic Monkeys, they always get me in a good mood. My mix soon turns into some darker music. My i-pod reflects me inside throughout. Its my constant companion. Soon my boyfriend rings me up, “Phoebe c’mon man lets go for a spin, bring your i-pod.” I get into his Civic and he starts driving. The windows are down and the air is blowing through my hair, I plug my i-pod in and the Alex Kidd starts pumping. Alex Kidd is by far my favourite DJ. The words “ecstasy” are throbbing in my ears. Leem starts speeding up we’re going well over sixty miles an hour. We change the music to some Chemical Brothers and The Avalanches. He drops me outside the farm across the road from my house. I now put on “Sandiego Song” by the Coronas.

I value both my i-pod and my nightly conversations with my daddy for both different yet similar reasons. My i-pod is stimulating to my body as I can’t help but move along to the beat, it is also the soundtrack of my life, I have a song for every moment and mood of my day. Without it I would be lost. Its also therapeutic for me I find it easy to relate to the lyrics in music and let them wash away any emotion I’m feeling. As for my nightly conversations with my daddy I treasure them dearly they stimulate my mind to no end, he has increased my knowledge of different dialects, cultures, religions and politics. I learn about the world around me even though I don’t leave my kitchen table.

Both my i-pod and my conversations with my daddy make me think, one with its thoughtful lyrics that I relate to and helps me deal with my own personal problems. My nightly conversations make me think about other people and the world that I’m in. I become more emotionally and intellectually mature through both these activities. Although I still value such items that don’t have such significant effects on me. Sometimes I love just walking around in my favourite heels and feeling like the most confident girl in the world, but mostly I just like sitting back and discussing politics with my dad.

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This Journal Article Submitted by Charles McCormick

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