And The Guilty Parent Award Goes To… South Hadley High School

If you haven’t been watching or reading the news lately, you need to put your rock up for sale and move out from under it; the news story surrounding the suicide of South Hadley High School’s Phoebe Price has touched a nerve with parents and communities everywhere.

On January 14, 2010 Phoebe Price came home from school and hung herself in a stairwell. Her sister came home and found her.

Nine students ranging in age from 16 to 18 are being charged with various felonies in Phoebe’s death. A recent discussion about this over on MothersClick somewhat sparked my idea to blog about this. While some aren’t sure if charging the teens with felonies is the right solution, other moms are convinced that this is the way to go.

Six of the nine are pleading not guilty.

I thought about this and read the NY Times article that sparked the debate. The felonies range from violating civil liberties to statutory rape.

RAPE. Let’s just be clear about this. THAT. IS. A. FELONY. Anyone who thinks that the two 18 year old males charged with this are being wrongly charged need to click away now because you’re not going to like the rest of this post.

As for the rest of you, thanks and stick around; I’m going to get very UN-Politically Correct.

You can read about the charges and even a story that Good Morning America did earlier this week. That story was the deciding factor in handing out my Guilty Parent Award (which is long overdue, by the way).

I don’t want to hand out this award to the entire school. Actually what needs to be done is to have multiple awards handed out and hopefully, you’ll agree with me. This is the first time I’m actually considering taking up a donation and having awards ACTUALLY MADE AND SHIPPED somewhere. This pisses me off THAT MUCH.

This entire story angers me on so many levels. I agree with those on our MothersClick forum that stated that the felonies should stand. I further agree and have no sympathy whatsoever for one of the accused bullies or her family, who are now seeking sympathy it seems through a statement made by their lawyer, as she is now becoming the victim of harassment herself.

Colin Keefe, an attorney for one of the suspects, said his client, Sharon Velazquez, 16, had been “tried and convicted unfairly by the general public.

“This is someone who could be your next door neighbor, it could be your daughter,” he said.

Keefe said his client is now the focus of threats herself.

“She has been receiving significant harassment over the Internet and in other ways,” he said. “My client and her family are very concerned for their overall well-being.”

In my opinion, if you’re going to raise a child to be so cruel and intimidating that it causes another human being to take their own life, your kid deserves everything they get. It disturbs me that this family is now concerned for “their own well being”… Yes. You probably should be. (Phoebe and her family were concerned for HER well-being too). Your daughter taunted, harassed, and acted unforgivably to another human being. Why should anyone have pity on what she’s going through? Let her feel what it’s like to be in Phoebe’s shoes for a bit. Phoebe died because of this girl’s actions. I can’t take pity on that.  You don’t want me to get started on the statement “This is someone who could be your next door neighbor, it could be your daughter”. Guess what? Phoebe was someone’s neighbor and daughter too.

I have another thought on that statement, mostly along the lines of thank god this bully isn’t my neighbor…. but I will keep the rest of that to myself.

That’s one Guilty Parent award that should be handed out.

This one requires multiple Guilty Parent Awards

This requires multiple Guilty Parent Awards

The teachers and administrators that KNEW about the bullying but ignored it are getting the BIGGEST GUILTY PARENT AWARD I can hand out. It’s GINORMOUS. You’ll need one of those semi trucks that move houses to come get it. If you read the NY Times report that I linked to, you’ll see that the vast majority of the bullying took place on school grounds. Even in our bassackwards country town we have rules against harassment and bullying so I’m curious to know what South Hadley High School’s handbook says about bullying. Can someone please get me a copy of that? It seems like the only thing it might be good for is bathroom reading material… or toilet paper. You choose.

I don’t know what frustrates me the most; the fact that some teachers and administrators were aware, the fact that Phoebe’s family went to the school and asked for help, the fact that this was not the FIRST TIME that someone was being bullied and the school knew and didn’t act, or the fact that no teachers or administrators have been put on leave, fired, or being held legally responsible for their ignorance and lack of involvement in this situation.

Let’s recap; A 15 year old student died. Because of actions that occurred at YOUR SCHOOL.

Multiple ball dropping here people. MULTIPLE. I do know one thing for sure. I will never move to South Hadley and enroll my kids in their school district. It’s clear that they don’t value a student’s life enough to enforce any anti-harassment rules they have.

Another thing that I can’t wrap my brain around when it comes to the school’s involvement is why they waited until after Phoebe’s death to expel three of the students. That seems so very late to the party doesn’t it? I mean it clearly was not a priority for the school while the bullying was going on, so why now?

OH I KNOW… So they can LOOK like they are taking the rest of the student body’s safety into consideration, right?

Lastly, I need to hand out awards to the parents of the teenagers who drove this girl to her death. Because clearly they’ve done such a FANFREAKINTASTIC JOB at parenting that they need to be awarded for it. No, really. They do. Moms and dads, throw out your “Parent Of The Year Award” because you’re going to need room on your mantle for the wonderful trophy I’m having made up especially for you.

Ok… hang on. I can’t go too tough on these parents can I? I mean it’s not their fault that their kids didn’t learn sympathy, empathy, kindness, or even the Golden Rule right? I mean, it’s the school’s fault. It’s society’s fault. It’s the media’s fault for cramming violent television, music and video games down their throats right?

Crap. I don’t buy it. Like I said… Giant Guilty Parent Award waiting for them to be picked up. Or we can ship. Either way, let’s get it to them. MmK?

About Nichole Smith

Nichole Smith has written 765 post in this blog.

Founder of Chaos in the Country and (original) The Guilty Parent blog, Nichole is a professional writer, blogger, social media strategist, and collector of yarn, books, and pretty paper.


  1. I don’t feel capable of doling out judgment quite so easily on the parents of the guilty teens. While, like you, I’m inclined to think that children of even halfway-adequate parents would act very differently from those delinquents, I also have known very caring parents who were good role models for their kids, and yet the kids made some very dumb and even cruel decisions. So I’d have to know the individual situations to say that I completely judge those parents.

    I feel deeply sad for the Price family. However, I must say that I DO judge them a bit (not that I would ever seek to condemn a family going through such pain). If I were one of her parents, I’d be blaming myself hardcore for not removing my child from such a seriously negative situation. Of course, I’m sure they know now that they should have done that, and will possibly blame themselves forever for not having done more to save their daughter. But I cannot imagine sending my child day after day into a situation like that. Switch schools, homeschool, or just defiantly let her be truant until the school does something about the problem.

    The school officials obviously suck for allowing this to go on. But as a parent, I consider it MY ultimate responsibility to keep my children safe – not the school’s.

  2. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I know that not everyone is going to agree with me, but it’s interesting to see how everyone feels on the subject and who they believe should be responsible. Unlike you, I do think that the school is responsible. The teachers and administrators spend at least 6 hours a day with this girl – more than parents do at this age. They were made aware and didn’t take immediate action. The reason I feel they should be responsible is because schools across America made such a HUGE DEAL out of cracking down on bullying and harassment after the tragedy of Columbine (and as well they should be) so why have these strict rules in place if no one is going to enforce them or follow through? It’s not like she was teased or taunted for a day and then this happened. This was ongoing for months which is more than enough time for a school to start an investigation.

    I’m sure that this girl’s parents do blame themselves for the outcome. I don’t see me judging or condemning them in any way helpful to the pain of their situation. They’ve lost a daughter and will forever feel pain and responsibility for that. The point of this post was not to call further pain to that. Rather it was to shine light on a topic that has become so mainstream that no one bats an eye anymore. We were all mortified and scared out of our wits when Columbine happened and the core of that event was bullies and harassment. It’s sad but it’s time for another wake up call and it’s time we stop letting the kids doing the bullying get away with it (getting away with murder seems like a fitting analogy in this case). We need to start holding them accountable for their actions. Otherwise, what kinds of adults are we going to be turning out into the world.

    Obviously, I could go on with this topic forever but I’d really like others to weigh in. Thanks again for commenting!


  4. I was one of those under a rock, but I’ve crawled out from under. I’d not heard of Phoebe Price until reading your post and then reading the articles, and I’m saddened that our children are subjected to this type of torture in schools – I’ve been on the side with a child that has been bullied. It is difficult to try and comfort a child when they feel so much against them. I can only imagine what she was going through.

    What happened to that old saying, “…it takes a village.” The administrators of her school are part of that village, as well as her parents, and others in the community. Someone had to have seen this behavior – why did know one speak up? It’s frightening to think that the kids that committed this cruelty and their parents are now saying that they are under scrutiny – as they should be. I’m not saying that the parents are bad, or even the kids, but somewhere in the midst of growing up they chose to take an unwise path and now they need to pay for what they have done. Kids don’t think before the commit.

    Unfortunately a young girl died from their actions, but I hope – hope – that somewhere teens have read this and have learned to change their ways.
    .-= Dannie´s last blog ..A Community Built by Children =-.

  5. Nikki says:

    I’ve often wondered what happened to that saying as well. I’ve touched on that subject here before too (somewhere in the deep recesses of the archives). The sad part is that there is no village anymore. I don’t think that any kid starts out bad but I think that the lessons they learn, the ones that teach them empathy and compassion start at home. I also agree that someone should have stood up for this girl besides her parents. They tried going through the school to get help (the right place to start) but the school fell short. I very much think that South Hadley High School has taken the path of ignorance in this.

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge