The Truth About What Happened to Phoebe Prince

The tragic case is more complicated than it seems
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2010 1:52 PM CDT
In this Jan. 15, 2010 file photo, a candlelight vigil is held at South Hadley, Mass., High School for freshman Phoebe Prince, 15, originally from Ireland.   (AP Photo/The Republican, Don Treeger, FILE)
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(Newser) – Much has been made in the press about the mean girls who tormented Phoebe Prince daily, allegedly pushing her to commit suicide in January. Six of the "bullies" are facing serious criminal charges that could land them in jail for a decade. But should the burden of her suicide fall on these teens? In an incredibly long and thoughtful investigation for Slate, Emily Bazelon, who has been reporting in Prince's town of South Hadley, Mass., since February, found herself faced with the "uncomfortable fact that Phoebe helped set in motion the conflicts with other students that ended in them turning on her."

Bazelon, who admits she "wrestled with how much of this information to publish," discovered a teen who was "deeply troubled long before she ever met the six defendants": Prince started cutting herself in 2008, was on Prozac, and missed her father, who remained in Ireland following her parents' divorce, severely. And own behavior—as one student put it, "attracting guys away from relationships"—"made other students understandably upset." Bazelon also carefully tracks each instance of bullying (in one girl's case, the only documented in-person with Prince encounter was a silent one in a school bathroom); her intricate report, which also looks into the aggressive DA who charged the six kids and whether or not the school could have done more, is definitely worth reading.

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