The suicide of Phoebe Prince was one of those events that set off shock waves in popular culture. Prince, a new student at a Massachusetts high school, killed herself after being viciously taunted in person and on Facebook by a posse of Mean Girls. Long before the facts were clear, the case sparked a torrent of commentary and analysis about the cyber-bullying, the cruelty of teenage girls, and the question of who should be held accountable for the tragedy. A few months later, the district attorney, Elizabeth Scheibel, filed criminal charges against six students.

Slate’s Emily Bazelon has pushed beyond the headlines, and her fascinating three-part series demonstrates how little we learn from initial reports on such cases. Bazelon’s stories raise serious questions about whether prosecution is the appropriate response to what happened.