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When Cyber-Bullying Turns Deadly

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When an online hoax leads to a teen's suicide, who's held responsible?

Update: St. Charles County prosecutor Jack Banas said Monday he will not file criminal charges in the case of the teenage girl who committed suicide after being bullied on the Internet, reports ABC News. This morning, both Megan's parents and the neighbor's attorney appeared on the TODAY show to respond.

When we heard about 13-year-old Megan Meier, the girl who killed herself after being cyber-bullied on MySpace, we were sickened. It was bad enough that cyber-bullying had driven this girl to suicide...but when we learned that the master plan was allegedly orchestrated by the mother of one of Megan's friends, we were flabbergasted.

According to ABC News, this mom set up a fake profile on MySpace for 16-year-old "Josh Evans." "Josh" courted Megan for a month, then broke things off, saying, "I don't know if I want to be friends with you any longer because I hear you're not nice to your friends." Then "Josh" began posting electronic bulletins, saying things like, "Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat," according to the Associated Press. The AP reports that Megan, who had a history of depression, was so devastated, she hung herself in a bedroom closet on Oct. 16, 2006, and died the next day. When we called Tina Meier, Megan's mom, to offer our condolences and support, she gave us additional details of this tragic story from her perspective.

In Tina's Own Words

"My daughter Megan passed away on Oct. 17, 2006. On Nov. 25, 2006, I received a phone call from a woman in the neighborhood that we didn't really know. She stated she had information regarding Megan's death, and wanted to have a meeting with us. Although we were hesitant, our grief counselor encouraged us to go--and even went along with us. This woman told us that 'Josh Evans' didn't exist. It was a fake MySpace profile that was made up by our neighbors. She told us that a mother had created 'Josh''s profile. This was a family I knew well. I sold them their house. We were storing their foosball table at that very moment in our garage. I mean, I was just blindsided.

"When I found out it was an adult who had masterminded this deadly hoax, I was overwhelmed and astounded. I just don't even know if there were any words. The grief of our daughter taking her own life was so fresh, I was numb and in another world. How could someone we knew and trusted...an adult...do this to our baby?

"Megan didn't want to die. Megan was handing out her 14th birthday invitations that morning, and she was ecstatic about her party. But she was so overwhelmed and felt so pressured by all this bullying. Megan felt there was just no other way to escape the pain. Kids who commit suicide don't think how everyone else is feeling. They don't even want to die. They just want the world and the pain to stop for a minute. Megan had a history of depression and ADD, so she was very impulsive. In that split second of despair, she just felt there was no other way out.

"In the police report, the mother I hold responsible says she created the MySpace page to gain Megan's trust and see if Megan was talking about her daughter behind her back. Nothing will bring Megan back, but I hope that by sharing my story I will spread the word about cyber-bullying and spare other families the pain that my family has suffered."

In response to the recent public outcry over Megan's suicide, a St. Charles County, Missouri prosecutor has announced plans to review the case to determine if any crime was committed. Local legislators are also looking at adopting an ordinance that would make Internet harassment a misdemeanor offense.

Dardenne Prairie Mayor Pam Fogarty, a mother of five, told Mom•Logic, "As a mother, I knew some bad things take place on the Internet, and I am protective of my children. When I heard this story, I just couldn't sit back and do nothing. I called the city attorney and said we needed to get this on the agenda immediately. " Fogarty is also pushing a resolution asking state lawmakers to make online harassment a felony statewide. Do you agree? Send the mayor a shout-out at mayor@dardenneprairie.org. We can only hope that some new legislation comes out of this tragedy that might help other families.

How to Prevent Cyber-Bullying

No child should have to go through what Megan did, but cyber-bullying is an unfortunate reality in our Web-savvy world. For tips on protecting our children, we consulted Ross Ellis, president and CEO of the non-profit organization Love Our Children USA. "First, parents should keep kids' computers out in the open," she advises. "Monitor your kids' online activity. Know what sites they frequent, along with their user names and passwords." That way, if something objectionable is going on, you will be aware and can respond quickly.

If you fear your child is being cyber-bullied like Megan, Ellis recommends taking the following steps:
• Keep the lines of communication open between you and your child. Your child needs to know you are there for her now.
• File a complaint with the Web site in question.
• Alert school officials to the situation. Encourage them to institute a school-wide no-bullying policy.
• File a police report, or even a civil suit, against the cyber-bullies in question.
• Be on the lookout for warning signs of depression. If your child becomes quiet or withdrawn, or doesn't want to go to school or to after-school activities, talk to a guidance counselor or school psychologist immediately.

For additional information about cyber-bullying and how to prevent it, visit Love Our Children USA.


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25 comments so far | Post a comment now
Angela November 21, 2007, 6:13 PM

This is really scary. I hope the other mother who set up the profile is prosecuted. I feel so sorry for the family of Megan. Now there will be a new kind of “Megan’s Law.”

April November 21, 2007, 6:21 PM

What kind of mother… I’m sorry, what kind of PERSON, would do that to a 13 year old girl? What was going through her mind when she decided to post bulletins calling that poor child all those horrible things? I agree with the previous comment… that woman needs to be prosecuted. And I think social services needs to intervene to ensure that this woman is even capable of raising her children. No adult in their right mind would do what she did.

Ladyblue December 3, 2007, 9:42 PM

Although this whole situation was horrible, it’s not really surprising. Bullies grow up to be parents too - and they keep passing it down.

One of my boys went to kindergarten in a very wealthy school (somehow we were in their district) - and I have never felt so low in my adult life. The BMW mommies would huddle around and whisper, watch their children tease other children, and exclude the lower income mommies from their “group”. My son wasn’t invited to one birthday party in kindergarten, but he would have to sit and watch while the invitations were handed out.

Needless to say - I put up with it for a couple of months - then put together a group of what I called “the white-trash mommies” - the ones who had to worry about things like budgets and hydro bills - we were able to find strength from each other and out children were able to have friends.

Geminate December 3, 2007, 10:10 PM


Megan Meier was an unstable personality, she was clinically depressed and possibly had other psychological issues. She was being treated with prescription drugs. This calls into question if the medications also had effects of heightened thoughts of suicide, which some medications cause in younger individuals. The very treatment she was getting could have caused her suicidal behavior. Knowing that your child had psychological problems, why on earth would you let her use MySpace or even the internet in general? The blame cannot be laid on one person alone, it is distributed over many circumstances, that added up to her death. In the end (not to seem uncaring) it is the individual’s choice that determines the outcome. Megan chose death, and then executed herself, by her own hand. No one was there killing her, no one was there forcing her die. We are all responsible for our own lives, if we feel suicidal, we can ask for help or choose not to get help. If a person is on the edge, and something brings them down, it doesn’t mean that someone is to blame. There have been suicides over songs, movies, work problems, family problems etcetera. One million people can listen to a depressing song and do nothing, while one, commits suicide over it because they were not functioning in a sane manner. If her parents understood that Megan was suicidal, why wasn’t she in an institution? If they knew she was abnormally depressed, why wasn’t she being treated beyond medications? No one can please everyone all of the time, and no one can be responsible for the whole world, but your own child is your responsibility, though ultimately when it comes down to killing oneself, you are your own responsibility. Megan did what she wanted, believing that it would be best, it was her decision and no one could stop her in the end. It is sad that she held people’s opinions of herself higher than her own opinion of herself, that shows a very real lack of sanity and someone who required far more than mere medications. In the reality of the majority, there is no one to blame, except Megan, who killed herself. She killed herself, she is responsible - think about it.

Ladyblue December 3, 2007, 11:01 PM

Megan Myer was 13 years old - not old enough to drive, vote, have sex or drink - she was not old enough to understand the magnitude of what she did.

Her parents were probably doing exactly what the doctors told them to do

and this grown woman decided it would be fun to humiliate and devastate a young girl.

Sorry, but that woman raked up a huge pile of bad karma that she will have to live with for many lives to come.

Fat Girl December 4, 2007, 1:41 PM

I came over here from Hungry Girl and.. wow. You know, ultimately I don’t think that they’ll legally be able to do anything, but I sure hope that woman who made the myspace profile is haunted by this for the rest of her life, because whether the girl was depressed or not, no one deserves to be treated like utter CRAP (I would really like to use a stronger word there, but I’m restraining myself).

It’s disgusting, and whether or not she did something legally wrong, I really hope that woman feels horrible for what she did. There is never an excuse to treat someone like that.

Anonymous December 4, 2007, 4:20 PM

Good for the woman who drove the little moron to kill herself. *starts slow clap*

Anonymous December 4, 2007, 7:55 PM

The girl was 13! 13!!! she was a CHILD!!! You can not blame her for what happened, she was just a kid, and didnt understand. All she knew was that ppl were being mean to her and putting her down. That messes children up when ppl put them down like that. NO one should do that to another person, especially an “adult”. It shows how ignorant ppl are when they say it was the childs fault and not the adult who caused the girl to feel like she did.

Cindy December 4, 2007, 9:18 PM

I really wish the psychopath would get off here and seek professional help!

Lo December 7, 2007, 10:43 PM

I can not comprehend how a MOTHER of all people could be so cruel. Did she not once stop to think how she would feel if some creep courted HER daughter online under a false name only to crush her later? Did she not realize how difficult that sort of thing is for any 13 year old to deal with, let alone one with a history of depression? This “mother” obviously should not be raising her own child, and I hope she ends up behind bars where she is unable to do any more damage to innocent children.
ADDITIONALLY
Slow clapper, with the flippant, crude comment a few below mine: don’t be so quick to judge. You obviously have little experience in the department of life and death. If, heaven forbid, you ever lose someone close to you by suicide, your outlook will change drastically. I hope it changes through other means for the sake of those of us grieving. Your callousness rubs salt in open wounds.

Anna Vandermark April 16, 2008, 12:30 AM

To LadyBlue,

When you made the comment about the BMW mommies, that’s not really bullying. That’s more about stratification and social class. You can’t force people to associate with you, that’s just unreasonable.

However, if they made fun of your kids for being poor, then there’s something wrong with them. But ignoring people doesn’t qualify as abusive behavior. Only physical and verbal abuse.

THE UNDERSTANDER December 3, 2008, 8:57 PM

THAT WAS SCARY WHAT MEGAN DID I MEAN MYSPACE IS OKAY ALL THAT PROTECTING THE MOTHER AND FATHER DID I KNOW MEGAN LIKED THE ATTEION FROM BOYS AND THATS WHAT JOSH EVANS (A FAKE) GAVE HER SO THE TERRIBLE PEOPLE MESSED WITH HER DREW HER IN AND THEN PLAYED WITH HER HEART THEN SHE WAS DEVISTATED I NKOW WHAT THE FEELS LIKE BUT I DONT KNOW THE PAIN THE FAMILY WENT THROUGH IT PROBABLY WAS HORRIBLE THAT LADY BETTER BE SEVING TIME IN JAIL I DONT CARE SHE CAUSED SUICIDE THATS WRONG SHE NEEDS TO GO TO JAIL FOR LIFE SHE TOOK A YOUNG GIRLS LIFE SO SHE SHOULD SPEND HER LIFE IN PRISON I DONT CARE THATS NOT WRIGHT WHAT SHE DID OH MY GOD THAT WAS SO WRONG OF HER MAN THAT WAS JUST STUPID WHAT SHE DID SHE CYBER BULLIED TO THE MAX TO THESUPERMAX THEY SHOULD MAKE THAT A LAW ALL ACROSS THE USA BETTER YET THE WORLD I FEEL FOR THE MEIER FAMILY I SAW THAT DR PHIL SHOW THANKS YOU REALLY TOUGHT ME TO BE SAFER ON THE INTERNET THANKS ONCE A GIN THE UNDERSTANDER

Jesse July 7, 2009, 3:16 PM

Parents need to monitor their children on the internet and control their usage. I don’t think the woman who made the fake profile was right by any means there should be punishment but I do think that the girl’s parents should hold partial responsibility. WATCH YOUR CHILDREN and if you aren’t around to.. TURN OFF THE COMPUTER until you are.

Michele July 7, 2009, 3:31 PM

The girl was innocent. She did not know what to do. That adult should be ashamed of what they did. Posting things like that about a 13-year old girl was nonsense. The girl had a past of depression, making her be like that again would obviously drive her into suicide! Does that woman hate the girl or something? If she did, she shouldn’t haev done something like that! If she wanted to have ‘fun’ by pretending and bullying, she shouldn’t have. This will co to haunt her one day.

Michele July 7, 2009, 3:33 PM

The girl was innocent. She did not know what to do. That adult should be ashamed of what they did. Posting things like that about a 13-year old girl was nonsense. The girl had a past of depression, making her be like that again would obviously drive her into suicide! Does that woman hate the girl or something? If she did, she shouldn’t haev done something like that! If she wanted to have ‘fun’ by pretending and bullying, she shouldn’t have. This will co to haunt her one day.

Bobby Corwen July 7, 2009, 3:46 PM

My parents would read this, and still wouldn’t understand because they have a different perspective of these sort of situations. They wouldn’t care, unless this happened to their child. But they wouldn’t even find the problem because there are other matters at hand or see the problem from just the surface—its superficial form that has hidden depth and complex nature. All you parents that care, and joining together to fight this injustice are really good parents and I’m sort of jealous of your kids. :/

Anonymous July 7, 2009, 3:56 PM

Heh… for a whole neighborhood to be in on this, poor Megan was probably not so nice of a person. That doesn’t mean she deserved suicide. And it won’t be the first or last time someone picks on someone like this… I had my ‘friends’ do this to me when I was 14. They were jealous because I always got more attention than they did and I heh generally rubbed their faces in it (unintentionally most of the time). But to look at things from the outside and ignoring certain factors…

She killed herself because she thought a boy online who she had never met broke up with her… so it was going to happen sooner or later unfortunately. Yes I feel for the family but… all the lawsuits in the world won’t bring their daughter back.

I don’t think the mother should get jail time or anything for doing this either.

This could have been avoided by better parenting on everyones behalf… if the mother of the girl had actually talked to her daughter (I know everytime I broke up with a boy in middle school I b-lined it for my mom) this could have been avoided. A lot of people don’t talk to their kids, and would rather medicate them than actually talking to them, Prozac is not a wonder drug, neither is riddlin. Also having taken Prozac as a teen myself a few years ago… the prozac could have contributed to her suicide. This is not saying that the other mother is completely without fault… she should have been more mature about it… but they said everyone in the neighborhood knew…so everyone else should have been more mature as well. Sad that this girl is dead because of crappy parenting and immature adults.

jenn July 7, 2009, 6:12 PM

okay so honestly this story is beyond messed up. i dont understand how megans mother isnt winning the case. for all the losers on my space esp the older ones do us all a favor and stop creeping on younger people like myself.and yet alone to bully someone so much younger is disgusting. what is this world comming to?

vicente  July 7, 2009, 8:00 PM

I dont think that the woman should be sent to prison, it was megans choice to take her life. I dont agree what that woman did I think she should get kicked in the head a couple time for being stupid and mean but megans death, sad, was her choice…


Anonymous July 8, 2009, 1:43 AM

i bully all the time


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