Phoebe Prince, 15, a recent immigrant from Ireland, settled with her family in South Hadley, Mass., and in 2009 she enrolled at South Hadley High School as a freshman. The trouble seems to have started when Phoebe briefly dated a popular senior football player from her school. This action was deemed insufferable by a group of girls at her school, later dubbed the "Mean Girls" by prosecutors. A group of seven girls launched a vendetta to make it impossible for Phoebe to remain in school. They knocked her books out of her hands, threw things at her, scribbled her face out of photographs on the walls at school, sent her threatening text messages and called her "Irish slut" and "whore" on popular social networking web sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Most of the bullying occurred on school grounds during school and was at times witnessed by a number of faculty and students, who did nothing.
Finally, after months of bullying, on January 14, 2010, her tormentors threw a can at Phoebe while she was walking home from school. That was the last straw. She went home and hanged herself. Her sister found her body in the stairwell of their home later that day. Her tormentors continued their harassment of Phoebe even after her death on her Facebook page. According to a parent who wished to remain anonymous to avoid reprisals against her daughter, on the day Phoebe died one of the accused bullies entered "accomplished" as her status on her Facebook page. Administrators say they were unaware of Phoebe's plight until a week before her death when a student entered a classroom and called Phoebe a slut in front of the teacher. Police arrested nine students in connection with Phoebe's death and so far six have been indicted: Kayla Narey, 17, Ashley Longe, 16, Flannery Mullins, 16, Sharon Chanon Velazquez, 16 and two young men: Sean Mulveyhill, 17 and Austin Renaud, 18. Since there are no laws specifically against bullying, prosecutors are relying on a combination of laws dealing with stalking, civil rights and statutory rape.