Yes, says Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post, the suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince as a result of taunts from classmates should awaken us to the bullying that goes on every day at American high schools. And yes, we should take a stand against it. But the extremely severe charges facing Prince's tormentors exceed what is rightfully deserved. "To be a teenager is to do stupid things," Marcus writes. Why did "those whose brains were fully developed: the school staff who apparently knew of the harassment...not do enough to stop it?" A brief excerpt:
"One of the juveniles is charged with 'assault by means of a dangerous weapon, to wit: a bottle, can or similar beverage container' — apparently throwing a soda can at Phoebe as she walked home from school the day she died. The other charges include stalking, harassment, violation of civil rights and, my favorite, disturbance of a school assembly.
"If this sounds derisive, it's not because I doubt the seriousness of the conduct but because the specific counts underscore how clumsy a tool criminal law is to deal with such behavior. Charging nine students is casting an awfully wide net."
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