New Details Complicate Phoebe Prince Case

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince in January made international headlines and changed the way that Massachusetts schools view and prosecute bullying in schools. What was described by state District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, initially, as a “nearly three-month campaign” of “relentless” and “torturous” bullying, may in fact have been a more nuanced and complicated case with an emotionally disturbed teenager at its center. 

Slate.com senior editor Emily Bazelon has been researching the Prince case since February, we hear why it may be misguided to levy felony charges against six teenagers in this tragic case.

Guests:

Emily Bazelon

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [3]

Larry from Montanta

Emily Bazelon done one of the worst reporting jobs I have read in a long time. We all had a troubled child and that all by itself says that bullying her is absolutely of limits. She needed compassion and companionship. To say because of her defects she is justifiably being treated the way she deserves it is a statement that I hope no one agrees with. It is the worst stance on this situation I can think of. We need more understanding, love and caring in a situation like this. I do disagree that these teenagers who done this should be sent to prison. Sending them to prison will not teach them how uncaring they were when they commented these mean acts.

Dec. 18 2010 10:59 PM

I live just a couple towns over from Hadley in the Pioneer Valley of western MA where this happened, so as you can imagine, it has been a big topic in the neighborhood. I was surprised to hear this story coming out of WNYC, and it definitely led me to some foregone conclusions.

We're focusing 100% on the aftermath, the punishment and the due process, as well we should, since the tragic event has already happened. I do think, however, that it is too little too late.

When these sorts of events occur, we -- as the public at large -- can't wait to start pointing fingers. We sound off about how these people are "monsters" and "evil," as if they didn't come from our towns and communities, but rather out of thin air. We focus the lens of effect, but never of cause. OR, if we do, we often find paltry, vacuous scapegoats to help ourselves sleep better at night. There are real, systemic issues at work here that we completely ignore. We freak out about cleaning up the mess, and we never think about what led to the mess in the first place.

Throughout this broadcast, I kept hearing comments about the impacts of punishment, how these kids should be punished, etc., etc. I couldn't but help feel that all of it was just so empty. We're all feeling that SOMEthing should be done, but what could possibly fill this void? A precious, unique human life was lost, and no amount of prison time or retribution can replace it. That is the real lesson we can't afford to forget in the future -- when we lose our loved ones due to this kind of treatment, there is no way to get them back.

These kids will be tried just a couple blocks from my workplace...and I, for one, will be searching for some words on how this tragedy can be prevented from happening again.

Jul. 22 2010 03:29 PM
Carol from New Jersey

I rarely comment or e-mail radio shows. However, the correspondent you had on discussing this poor girl's suicide infuriated me. Her comments were baseless. She clearly stated she never spoke to the victims family and she never spoke to the teenagers accused, so who did she speak to? Did she speak to the parent's of the accused, classmates who? As a retired teacher and a parent of a 13 year old girl I can tell you that bullying and harassment can destroy young lives. It alters the victims personality and they carry that weight with them most of their lives. It is a crucial time in their development and sorrowfully for this child and family it became too much to bare. This poor child's family didn't stand idle. They brought this to the attention of everyone involved prior to the suicide. The parent's of the accused should be on trail with the administratiors who did nothing. The reporter as far as I am concerned was vague and looking to get herself know. I listen to your show because it usually is fair replica of both sides of a story but this report has me turned off. Neither of you even attempted to question her source or her true intentions. I am outraged! The dead can't defend themselves and this reporter is using that. Poor choice on your part.

Jul. 22 2010 02:04 PM

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