School Bullying Reaching Epidemic Proportions
INSIDE EDITION is learning more about the disturbing case in Massachusetts of a 15-year-old high school student who committed suicide after she was bullied. Nine kids face criminal charges in the case, which is putting the spotlight on teen bullying. As INSIDE EDITION's Megan Alexander reports, these girls say it happened to them, too.
The Phoebe Prince case is the latest in an epidemic of bullying sweeping U.S. schools, some caught on tape like beatings on school buses.
Police say 15-year-old Phoebe was targeted because she was pretty and dated a popular football star.
"The investigation revealed relentless activity directed toward Phoebe designed to humiliate her," said prosecutor Elizabeth Scheibel.
Seven girls have been charged with harassing Phoebe and two teenage boys have been charged with statutory rape.
Behavioral expert Barbara Colorosa told INSIDE EDITION, "Any form of bullying is mean and cruel. It's ugly. But this was ramped up to the point that she could not take it anymore."
Stephanie Schwain says she knows what Phoebe went through. She told INSIDE EDITION she was bullied by a gang of cheerleaders at a Texas high school who called themselves the "Fab Five." It was like a teen movie come to life, but with potentially tragic consequences.
"This is a serious life and death matter. If the school districts would take action from day one, this would not continue," said Schwain.
An investigation by the school district in 2007 found a mean girls culture with cheerleaders basically running the school.
"A small group of ultra-cool cheerleaders resisted all authority," the report said.
And one brutal beating shocked millions when a 16-year-old Florida girl was beaten by classmates at a slumber party. Victoria Lindsay was lured to a friend's house and then confronted by the bullies as a camera rolled.
"They just mocked me and laughed at me like it was some kind of show," said Lindsay.
One girl was sentenced to 15 days in prison. Others were placed on probation.
Massachusetts prosecutors in the Phoebe Prince case say they'll be demanding real jail time.
"This should be a wake up call for the police department and I think they should prosecute completely and to the fullest," said Schwain.