Phoebe Prince's Tormenters: Did Their Punishments Fit Their Crime?

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Kids make bad decisions at times. Actually, people of all ages do. And in many cases, people deserve to be forgiven. But in some cases, people’s actions are so severe that the lead to possibly unintended consequences. In the case of Phoebe Prince, being tormented by classmates became so bad that she took her own life. The consequence for the ringleader of the tormenting was a year of probation and 100 hours of community service, and for his accomplice, a slap on the wrist and 100 hours of community service.

Is this fair?

I would never argue that Sean Mulveyhill and Kayla Narey, Phoebe Prince’s main tormenters, actually killed her. Phoebe, unfortunately, took her own life. However, there is significant evidence that the actions of the pair, and their friends, led to Phoebe’s unfortunate death.

I read Bonnie Fuller’s article on, and Bonnie believes that the punishment given to the two ringleaders does not fit the crime. I agree with her. While Mulveyhill, Narey and their accomplices will live the rest of their lives knowing the shameful things they did to the young Phoebe Prince, their sentencing doesn’t seem to indicate that they harmed Phoebe (and now her family) so badly with their words and actions. If you recall, the two and their seven friends tormented Phoebe in person and online. They even went so far as to throw soda cans at her and cause her to walk in between people in the hallways at school for fear of being hurt. They told her to kill herself. Even after her death, the tormenters left horrible messages on Phoebe’s Facebook memorial page.

I wonder if the sentences given were lenient because Sean and Kayla showed remorse. Kayla did apologize to Phoebe (a little too late, of course), and accomplice Ashley Longe issued an apology to Phoebe’s mother. I also wonder if the sentence was lenient because the judge felt the teenagers had suffered enough from being targeted in the public spotlight, and that punishment seemed to better fit the crime than would jail time.

I don’t think the sentence should be harsher to prove a point about bullying, but I do think that a bit more was deserved based on the group’s actions towards Phoebe Prince. I think the teenagers should be required to talk at high schools about bullying. This will force them to share the pain that they face knowing that they hurt someone so badly that she took her life, and they are now required to share their story with the world, putting their future goals and plans on hold.


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