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Are Bullies Really to Blame for the Death of Phoebe Prince?

In an absorbing series on Slate called "What Really Happened to Phoebe Prince?" Emily Bazelton is challenging the notion that 6 fellow classmates, now facing criminal charges, bullied 15-year-old Phoebe Prince to death. Writes Bazelton:

"There is no question that some of the teenagers facing criminal charges treated Phoebe cruelly. But not all of them did. And it's hard to see how any of the kids going to trial this fall ever could have anticipated the consequences of their actions, for Phoebe or for themselves. Should we send teenagers to prison for being nasty to one another? Is it really fair to lay the burden of Phoebe's suicide on these kids?"

Bullying is inexcusable, but it's not the only wrong turn that was made in this story. Bazelton points out how catastrophically bad the school dealt with Prince, who had attempted suicide once before, was a self-mutilator, had suffered bullying in her native Ireland, and was on antidepressants. She clearly did not get the help that she needed. Writes Anna North over at Jezebel,

"That's how society seems to work too, not just high-school girls, and it appears Prince got caught in a vicious cycle. No adults stepped in to help her, so she turned to older guys, which only made other girls madder."

So what was the school's hand in this tragedy? Should anyone other than the bullies be blamed for the death of Phoebe Prince? Anyone else shocked at how easily girls call each “sluts” and “whores?” Have your kids ever experienced bullying, or is it something you worry about?