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Bullying raises questions about schools' vigilance

Mar 30, 2010 6:01:00 PM - thestate.com
A gay teenager in New York wins $50,000 from a school district that failed to stop taunts about his sexual orientation. The Justice Department investigates complaints that administrators ignored racial bullying in a Philadelphia school.

And in Massachusetts, a 15-year-old girl hangs herself after she is mercilessly harassed for months - taunting and threats that school administrators knew about but did not stop.

Now, with nine students charged in the bullying of Phoebe Prince, who hanged herself at her family's home in January, questions have arisen about how accountable school officials should be for stopping bullying.

Barbara Coloroso, a nationally known anti-bullying consultant, had been contacted by South Hadley school officials months before Phoebe's death, after a young boy in nearby Springfield killed himself. She spent a day there in September, training teachers and administrators on how to recognize and deal with bullying.

Coloroso said school officials made mistakes by failing to stop the bullying and, after Phoebe hanged herself, by allowing at least some of the students involved to continue to attend classes and a school dance with no visible signs of discipline.