Dr Phil in plea after Phoebe bullying death
AMERICAN talk-show host Dr Phil McGraw yesterday called for new measures to prevent bullying in the aftermath of the suicide of Irish schoolgirl Phoebe Prince.
Tragic Phoebe (15), who was originally from Co Clare, took her own life after an orchestrated campaign of hatred against her by classmates in Massachusetts.
Psychologist Dr Phil hosts his own hit television series in which he tackles personal and societal problems.
"It is so out of control," he told a hearing on cyber-bullying in Washington.
"These kids are getting isolated in their homes. They're getting isolated on these computers. And they're getting their reputations ruined.
"These bullies can use Photoshop to doctor pictures and put a child in a humiliating or embarrassing situation. They write emails, write letters, and so often we see these kids become isolated, withdrawn, and stop going to school.
"They can even -- as we have seen so tragically with situations like Phoebe Prince's -- wind up actually taking their own lives.
"I mean, this is a terrible burden on these kids," he testified before the US House Committee on Education and Labour on Capitol Hill.
Dr Phil described cyber-bullying as "a serious, serious problem".
He added: "We've got to figure out what to do to get this under control.
"And so much of what's going on today is beyond parents because our kids are much more computer literate than we are.
"We've got to give the educators the tools they need to prevent this.
"There is never any detention (of bullies). There is never any complaint that is followed up. So, this is something that's affecting almost half of children and we're basically not doing anything about it.
"We need to track down who these kids are. These keyboard bullies are anonymous, which means they're even meaner and more aggressive because they can hide behind anonymity," he added.