HOW IRONIC that the front page of Friday’s Globe placed the case of John Odgren next to the article about the state’s anti-bullying bill, which passed the same day that a jury convicted this teenage bullying victim to life in prison for murder. This eloquently illustrates the public’s lack of understanding of the psychological consequences of lifelong peer abuse. The public institutions in this state failed Odgren by lack of appropriate care and protection, and did not assess his degree of disturbance.
Research dating back to the Vietnam War confirms that most individuals faced with chronic threats to their physical and emotional well-being will develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Vietnam research also implicated the young age of the soldiers as an important risk factor, as the teenage brain was not fully developed. When bullying begins at a young age and continues, children indeed can feel as if they are going into a battlefield every school day.
The Odgren verdict is not justice for the murder victim and his family.