Phoebe Prince, in Her Own Words
What can we learn about the bullying victim from essays she wrote for English class?
But Phoebe has some critical distance from the topic. She's curious about how Levenkron did his work. And she talks about her connection to the books in terms of the experiences of people around her, not herself:
Some questions that arise from the book for me are; how does the author himself cope with dealing with such a morose field? How does he manage to understand what's going on inside the self-mutilators head? I think Levenkron does a great job of bringing self mutilation a usually tabooed subject in our society to light. I think he wrote the piece to show that people shouldn't be afraid of speaking out about self-mutilation and those who do it shouldn't be condemned as selfish. This book I really connected with as I found there was truth in every word that Levenkron wrote and it helped me comprehend what people close to me have gone through.
These essays, and the details about her home life, provide just small glimpses into Phoebe's thoughts. There are many more details to be filled in before we can have anything like a full picture—which matters for assessing the role that bullying played in her death. But one thing is entirely clear from these passages: Phoebe was sensitive, smart, and articulate about the trials of being a teenager.
Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and writes about law, family, and kids. Her forthcoming book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Empathy and Character. Find her at email@example.com or on Facebook or Twitter.
Photograph of Pheobe Prince by South Hadley High School.