Witch hunts won’t bring Phoebe Prince back

April 16, 2010

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PARENTS, POLITICIANS, and the public have condemned South Hadley school administrators for Phoebe Prince’s tragic suicide without benefit of all the facts. By law, school officials are constrained in what they can say about students or the school’s actions, and their required silence has fueled the public’s fury.

Governor Patrick is among the worst offenders. In a recent radio interview, the governor slammed South Hadley school administrators, and then essentially acknowledged that he didn’t have all the facts (“Patrick slams school officials in bully case,’’ Page A1, April 10).

Of course, every school must create a safe climate for all students and must deal promptly with complaints. But parents are the ones most responsible for their children’s values and behavior. If the South Hadley bullies acted as alleged, resulting in Phoebe Prince’s suicide, then why aren’t more people in the community asking how those families could raise such children?

Everyone needs to stop blaming school officials and parents, and start working together for the common good. Public witch hunts won’t bring Phoebe Prince back. What’s more, they make it harder to learn how to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Dan Cheever
The writer was superintendent of schools in Lincoln and Weston and was president of Wheelock and Simmons colleges.

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