It’s that time of year again! High school seniors across the nation are beginning their prom preparations.
From securing the right date to finding the perfect dress, students anxiously waiting for college responses distract themselves planning for the springtime formal. Or should I say, most kids.
While pranks and “free speech” flood social media, bullying is a continuing problem online and in schools. Some students suffer so terribly from bullying that they can’t enjoy the traditional senior activities they’ve worked years to earn.
Shannon Purcifer was 16 and in her last year of secondary school in Gosport, Hampshire, UK. Like her peers, she spent her time studying for university exams.
Unlike most students in their teens, Purcifer juggled being a student with managing a collection of serious medical conditions. On top of Celiac disease, she has a bowel disorder, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
If that wasn’t difficult enough, for whatever reason, her peers knew about her medical ailments. Instead of being accepting, many chose to cruelly and immaturely bully her.
Like most teens, Purcifer had been excited about the arrival of the traditional event. She’d bought her dress months in advance.
But between purchase and prom night, bullying continued and Purcifer’s excitement faded. By the night of the dance, she put the dress on, but decided not to go.
This prompted an emotional Facebook post from her mother, Claire Carstens, who showed off her daughter in her beautiful dress and explained why Purcifer decided not to go.
“Thanks to nasty vile bullies Shannon decided she didn’t want to go and mix with scum that had made her so miserable,” the mother wrote.
The post caught the attention of many and a plan to make things right began to develop. With the help of social media and a GoFundMe page, Carstens raised £500 to throw an alternative party aimed at sticking it to the bullies who tortured Purcifer.
“This isn’t about bad mouthing the school but the school certainly needs to sort out bullying as soon as they are aware of it. This is about showing all those nasty bullies that they wont win and also showing anyone that is being bullied, there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Carstens commented.
The gala was held at St. Vincent College hosted by about 100 of Purcifer’s family and friends. It was elegantly decorated, had a disco, and even offered a buffet.
Purcifer, who was not privy to the planning beforehand, was surprised when her mother told her she was having her own prom. Surprise turned to excitement when 120 bikers from the Gosport Scooter Club arrived to escort the lady to her formal.
Before the special night, the head teacher at Purcifer’s school lent support, saying, “The alternative prom is a lovely idea. It’s a great example of the positive power of social media, and we hope it is a great success.”
While we are happy to report that it was, we can’t help but side with Carstens’ hope that the school will do better at protecting victims of bullying. Responding to a friend on an update about preparations she wrote, “It’s time for change!”
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