Bullies are a problem at all levels of life. Victims experience harassment at work or school via all forms of communication – face-to-face, online or by phone.
And victims often go unheard.
Fifteen-year-old Phoebe Prince started attending South Hadley High School in Massachusetts last fall. When she began dating a 17-year-old football player, the tormenting began, according to Slate.com.
She was teased for being Irish, constantly slammed on Facebook and received mean text messages. After weeks of harassment, Prince hanged herself Jan. 14.
According to People magazine, teachers knew about the harassment but did nothing about it. However, school officials dispute that claim. The day Prince died, she endured name-calling in the school library in the presence of a faculty member and had a soda can thrown at her while walking home.
No one took action until after her death. Nine of her classmates face charges, including violation of civil rights with bodily injury resulting, stalking, statutory rape and criminal harassment. They will receive summons to appear in court, according to The Belfast Telegraph.
Perhaps no one spoke up for fear of being bullied or a desire to mind one’s own business. In this case, others did not speak out until it was too late.
Unlike Prince, victims may sometimes choose to lash out against their persecutors.
Last month, Arunya Rouch killed her Publix co-worker in Tarpon Springs, after being fired from her job. Her “provoker,” Gregory Janowski, said to his managers that Rouch had threatened him, according to St. Petersburg Times.
Yet, recent news reports portray Rouch as a victim of taunting by Janowski and fellow co-workers. Rouch, an immigrant from Thailand, requested transfer to another store before she was fired, but no action was taken.
After being fired, Rouch returned a few hours later and shot and killed Janowski, who was sitting in his car, according to authorities. She then entered the store and sought other co-workers but was shot multiple times when police arrived on scene.
The question remains why no one spoke up if it was known that Rouch was being bullied. They should have realized the effect teasing had, and someone should have stood up for her.
A recent study by the Media Relations department at Arizona State University shows that students or co-workers often identify bullies as someone they work or go to school with.
The study found that 25 to 30 percent of all U.S. employees have been bullied or emotionally abused at some point during their work histories.
While workplace bullying and school bullying may be different, results remain the same – the victim feels alone and vulnerable.
Teachers, managers or anyone in charge should take just as much blame as bullies. By not taking a stand or dismissing victims’ claims, authorities seem to be giving bullies permission to continue what they are doing.
No matter the nature of the bullying, authorities need to start stepping in and doing something before it’s too late.
Naomi Prioleau is a junior majoring in mass communications.