Phoebe Prince Facebook bullying | A psychiatrist’s view

The Facebook logo. Phoebe Prince's Facebook gave the Mean Girls of South Hadley the fuel they desired to destroy the life of the 15-year-old girl.

Facebook is fun until somebody starts using it to stalk and bully someone until that person kills herself. (Photo: Flickr)

It got so bad that even on Facebook Phoebe Prince could find no peace. The “Mean Girls of South Hadley,” a group of teens from South Hadley High School in South Hadley, MA, bullied the 15-year-old Phoebe Prince mercilessly until she hanged herself. The teens have been brought up on charges, but that doesn’t replace a life. The Mean Girls made a point of ruining her online life as well as her physical life. Even after death, the Phoebe Prince Facebook page was defiled by the venom of the Mean Girls of South Hadley, reports Fox News. According to Dr. Keith Ablow, the Mean Girls could have gathered a great deal of information with which to terrorize Phoebe Prince, including but not limited to her sensitive nature and malleable sense of self.

Phoebe Prince, Facebook and predators

As Dr. Ablow suggests, people who fit the standard profile of a bully can quickly detect a weakness in their prey, as they did with the Phoebe Prince Facebook. Such bullies are fueled by a need to tear down others, so they quickly develop the ability to find their openings with bitter efficiency.

Being a teenager is difficult for anyone, but for a girl like Phoebe Prince, who was both pretty and unsure of her place in the world, it is particularly difficult. While millions would give anything to be good looking, the reality as Dr. Ablow has observed is that if a teens lack confidence, being attractive can make them targets, rather than popular. Bands of bullies look to tear down people whom they feel do not have the defenses to mount resistance.

Hating was the Mean Girls’ drug, suggests Dr. Ablow

“Dehumanizing her had to have been intoxicating,” he told Fox. Otherwise, what would have been the point? Gleaning information from the Phoebe Prince Facebook was a means to an end – in this case, a high, says Ablow. Considering how widespread social media like Facebook are today, it’s easy to see how dangerous sensitive personal information can be in the wrong hands. Not only can identity theft issues arise and destroy credit, but as in the case of the Phoebe Prince Facebook, it can destroy the psyche.

Is controlling bullying possible?

Dr. Ablow asserts that “In a controlled population like a school system, it is possible, from early grades, to instill in young people a psychiatrist’s view of those who perpetrate violence toward others—as broken, rather than brazen; gripped by emotional disorder, rather than in control.”

Once bullies are no longer glamorized as James Dean-esque rebels, then perhaps the needed cultural shift can occur. Detention and suspensions are ineffective tools, Dr. Ablow feels – better methods for dealing with discipline in schools are needed. Concern is needed, not scorn. Total removal and home schooling until a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist can assure a school that the bully is no longer a threat to themselves or others. Parents or caregivers have to step up.

(Photo Credit: / CC BY 2.0)

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