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Her name was Phoebe Prince. She was 15 and came to the United States from Ireland and settled with her family in Massachusetts. She went to South Hadley High School and excelled in academics. Phoebe was known as a good person and had a good home life. Dating the top football player in her school, you could say Phoebe had the "good life." Who would have guessed that this same girl, living the "good life," would commit suicide?

In Phoebe's death notice her parents said they moved here so she could experience America. You could say she experienced America all right -- the problem that America has with bullying. Phoebe was cyberbullied and physically bullied, mostly by girls in her school that were mad that this girl from Ireland would date a boy they all liked. Phoebe ended her life Jan. 14.

Bullying is a problem facing many teens and kids today. This story is just one example of how cruel it really is. There may be many reasons why we don't like someone, but it never gives us the right to treat someone else with disrespect. Most teens and kids back down from bullies because they're afraid, and that's completely understandable. People are afraid to stand up for themselves because they think the bullying will get worse.

There is a saying: "If you feed a monster the monster only gets bigger." So if you're being bullied and you don't stop it yourself or get help from a teacher, principal or counselor, you're only allowing the bully to think it's OK to hurt people. The biggest enemy is fear itself. Fear is in every human -- it's something that needs to be worked through because if you don't contain it you'll be ruined by it. It might not seem like it, but bullies are actually cowards because instead of taking their own problem and tackling it, they take their problem out on other people. Whether their home lives are not the best of circumstances, schoolwork is hard for them or they're psychologically unstable, they think these reasons give them the right to bother other people.

Life is hard enough without someone purposely trying to make it harder. Bullying is so serious that a lot of kids and teens are mentally hurt and sometimes physically hurt. The people who are bullied usually end up being insecure with themselves. The messed up thing in some schools is that if you're attacked and you try to protect yourself by retaliating, you will most likely be the one getting in trouble instead of the person that should be in trouble.

Being physically abused and mentally abused are two different things, because your body can heal from a broken nose or hand. But when your mind has been messed with, there's no easy fix. People need to think before they act. If everyone loved others the way they love themselves, what a world this would be! Everyone should be respected, young and old alike. No one wants to feel like an outcast, especially in school, but don't give into pressures like being a bully to fit in with a group of people. Do what you know is right by not giving into the monster. Be fearless -- resolute in the face of dangers or challenges.

Desiree Nagel is a home-schooled freshman in Forestville.