The town of South Hadley, Mass., is still reeling from the suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, and the subsequent arrest of nine classmates for bullying the teen. But now, some commentators are asking if the school's teachers should be held accountable. Administrators and teachers at South Hadley High reportedly knew that Prince was being aggressively bullied, but didn't take any steps to help the student or punish the culprits. Did they play a passive—but crucial—role in Prince's death? (Watch a CBS report about blame in the Phoebe Prince case.)
Prince's teachers are criminals: The adults who saw Prince being bullied but did nothing "disgust me more than the Lord of the Flies cretins who did the torture in the first place," says Rod Dreher at Beliefnet. Were they afraid to be "on the bad side of the cool kids?" If school officials aren't going to be arrested, Prince's parents should sue the district for "some measure of retribution" against the irresponsible and cruel adults who neglected to stop Prince's "torture."
"The lonesome death of Phoebe Prince"
Don't be so fast to lay blame on teachers: While it's easy to point the finger at Prince's teachers, "there is little that a school can do" to control its students after classes, says the Ethics Alarms blog. Nor is it right to require teachers to have "intimate knowledge" about their students' "vulnerabilities and emotional states." That responsibility falls to Prince's grieving parents, whose job it was to monitor their daughter's mental health—and remove her from South Hadley High School.
"Accountability, the Phoebe Prince suicide, and the Golden Rule's limitations"
Let's not jump to conclusions: Yes, the teachers probably could have done more to help Prince, says Emily Bazelon at Slate. And it's wrong that a group of teens is "on the hook for a failure that's bigger than they are." But we need to wait until the district attorney files its official report on the school's role before we jump to conclusions about a story that, months after Prince's suicide, "is still unfolding."
"The blame game"