Prince Suicide: Police, Prosecutors Ill-Suited To Punish Bullies

Print delves into the story of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old ninth grader who came to South Hadley, Ma., in September and killed herself in January. Six students are facing serious criminal charges for bullying Prince. The charges turned the six into international symbols of callow teenage evil. Their names and pictures appeared in the media nationwide, and they were kicked out of school. They face pretrial proceedings in September.

Some of Slate’s conclusions: “Phoebe helped set in motion the conflicts with other students that ended in them turning on her [] she was deeply troubled long before she ever met the six defendants.” Also: “The events that led to Phoebe’s death show how hard it is for kids, parents, and schools to cope with bullying, especially when the victim is psychologically vulnerable. The charges against the students show how strong the impulse is to point fingers after a suicide, how hard it is to assess blame fairly, and how ill-suited police and prosecutors can be to punishing bullies.”

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