Five teens who faced criminal charges for bullying in connection with the 2010 suicide of Phoebe Prince in South Hadley, Ma., were sentenced to probation and community service. Bullying-prevention advocates hope that the work of “restorative justice” has just begun, says the Christian Science Monitor. Now, they say, the defendants should use their experience to help other young people steer clear of bullying and the deep harm it causes. “These are roles these kids play, and we want to [ ] have them rewrite their own script,” says Barbara Coloroso, an educator and author on bullying.
What's needed, she says, is “accountability where justice is served for the family and healing takes place” – rather than either of the two extremes that some in the public have called for: locking up the teens or not holding them accountable at all. Prince's family agreed to the sentences, in which the more-serious charges were dropped, to avoid drawn-out trials. Another teen has pleaded not guilty to statutory rape. The proceedings “signify that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated in our schools and when it rises to the level of criminal conduct [ ] those responsible will be prosecuted,” said prosecutor Steven Gagne.