New reports imply Phoebe Prince had it coming?

In the last couple of days, articles have appeared in the media that seem to be trying to shed "new light" on the case of Phoebe Prince's bullying suicide.  One bombshell, in Slate Magazine, provides a fairly detailed outline of the teen's life and circumstances before her death. In the article, references were made to her incidents of cutting herself, how she poached other people's boyfriends, and the implication is that she is at least partly to blame for what ultimately happened to her.

Ok, maybe it's just me, but this entire article offends me.  It's the same as saying, "well, she deserved to be raped because she wore provocative clothing." Rubbish.

Now I'm not going to sit here all naive and expect that everything is black and white.  It's already been reported in several media outlets that Phoebe had a troubled past and that she may have done some things that would lead to some of her classmates getting angry with her. But nothing...and I mean NOTHING justifies what happened to her. Is Domestic Violence justified because a spouse failed to pay bills on time, or didn't have dinner prepared when promised? Does anyone ever "deserve" this kind of treatment?  Of course not.

Naturally, Phoebe's family is speaking out against the Slate piece.  In a Fox News story, the family believes this is another attempt to "further victimize the victim," and continues to point out that of course, Phoebe was troubled.  Kids that are "untroubled" don't commit suicide, but in Phoebe's case, the bullying drove her over the edge.

But it's the "gee, look at her behavior, she had it coming to her" attitude that gets me.  I do understand "cause and effect" and that our actions have consequences; it's been part of what I shared in the situation between Josie Lou Ratley and Wayne Treacy. But in Phoebe's case, I don't think anyone can say, "If she hadn't dated X, no one would have bullied her.  If she hadn't been 'an Irish slut' (as some termed her), it wouldn't have been necessary." That's wrong if anyone draws that conclusion or implies it.

I'll go back to what I usually say in these circumstances: regardless of what drove the kids in this situation, the fact is they didn't "get" (maybe on both sides), that you just don't treat people this way.  I can guarantee you if both sides had acted with integrity, mutual respect, compassion and kindness, NONE of this would have happened. We do not place enough emphasis on the importance of treating people decently. Heck, Slate Magazine isn't even treating a dead teen, her family, or community decently.  All for the love of "the story," are they digging for the worst to somehow prove that Phoebe was somehow to blame for what happened to her.

I find that offensive.  Anyone else have a problem with how this is being covered? Would love to hear from you one way or the other.

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  1. Julia says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! It is offensive and her family said it right, it further victimises the victim!
    Since when does treating someone badly come with a disclaimer clause?
    It oughta be illegal.

  2. Fern says:

    Thank you so much Corinne!  You have said it perfectly and I can only hope that the outrage alot of us have felt this past week will be heard by the editors of Slate as well as NBC.  I became ill when I saw Phoebe’s picture plastered all over the news again but with headlines insinuating that it wasn’t bullying that was the problem and like you say she must have asked for it.  I am so sorry for the Prince family to have to relive this nightmare.  I hope it backfires on the defense and I really hope that DA Scheibel finds some issue with the medical information about Phoebe being leaked.

  3. Tranquil1 says:

    Sadly, this is inevitably what happens in a situation like this.

    People don’t want to take responsibility for their neutrality, which is tantamount to being an accessory to the bullying.  I’m not sure how to explain it here in full but the book “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)”, it talks about cognitive dissonance in the “triangle” of the bully, the bystander and the target.

    I’ll try to pull the section that covers this.

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