A western Massachusetts town is organizing efforts to address digital abuse Monday, in response to a teen resident's suicide on January 14 that is believed to have been partly the result of cyber-bullying.
Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old freshman at South Hadley High School, immigrated with her family from Ireland to South Hadley, Massachusetts, last fall. The digital abuse allegedly began after disagreements involving a romantic relationship at school, and escalated into non-stop text and Facebook harassment from multiple people in the weeks leading up to her death.
A recent MTV/AP study found that digital abuse is taking a serious emotional toll on teens. According to the study, young people who are victims of cyber-bullying are more than twice as likely to have contemplated suicide. This also translates into group bullying.
"A lot of these teens go back and read the taunts, they read the messages, they see what others are saying; and often cyber-bullying will lead to cyber-mob behavior," Internet privacy and security attorney, Parry Aftab, told ABC News.
On Wednesday, in response to an outpouring of letters from concerned residents, the South Hadley School Committee will review digital abuse response plans for its local schools. Additionally, an anti-bullying task force has been formed for South Hadley High which will meet regularly in the coming weeks.
If you or someone you know are a victim of digital abuse, get help now. Experts believe that education and dialogue are key to identifying and stopping the spread of digital abuse. Head to AThinLine.org to find ways you can increase national awareness about this issue and be a part of the solution.