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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
Lori July 10, 2009, 2:56 PM

She should be in trouble for engaging in an online relationship with a child. She’s clearly a pediphile. I don’t beleive she pretended to be a young boy to find out what this girl was saying about her own daughter- that’s ridiculous.

payday loans canada December 16, 2009, 3:00 PM

Good Day!!! www.momlogic.com is one of the most excellent informational websites of its kind. I enjoy reading it every day. All the best.

george acosta March 2, 2010, 9:29 AM

im happy for that little girl that died hope it happens to more little girls and boys..i perfer to mate with 10 year old boys and animals on the weekend..

Lily April 25, 2010, 10:14 PM

That is just WRONG!! I mean, she’s an adult for god sake….hasn’t she surpassed that level of immaturity to bully somebody!! and she’s 13!! 13!! her whole life was ahead of her,she could of been somebody who had changed the world for who the heck knows!!! and I myself am 13,and as a teen…most adults don’t understand that OUR lives are complicated too!! they think they’re the only ones who’s doing all the work well WE ARE 2 YOU KNOW!! of course we do appreciate all the hardwork they have been doing for us,but sometimes shouting at us makes our lives soooo DARN HELL sometimes,it makes you want to cry…cuz they put you down once more,after studying sooo hard at school,after being bullied by Ur classmates,sometimes being humiliated at class…it’s those little things that affects us teens the most,and it’s hard to live every SINGLE day with that expected ahead but we still keep going cuz…it’s the only way of living,but I do love my parents…and sometimes I hate them like all teens out there but they’re my parents and I appreciate having them.So as for Megan and that freaking Devil Mom!! I have no idea why the hell a woman at her age would do something like that!!I think she just wanted to play&ruin somebody’s life!!She just wanted to try to be a youth again..who bullies teens…I don’t know!! And that’s just freaking WRONG! okay…with all the bargain of teens lives and you go and add this sorrow into her life!! are ya CRAZY!!! I mean Ur a mom for god sake…be grateful other moms don’t do it to Ur daughter!!just dispicable gracious-untollerable!! And I do hope that this doesn’t happen again!! BULLYING IS WRONG!!

yusuf December 29, 2010, 10:26 PM

thank you very good article i like 1st its tittle. i hope you will send more article like this.technology news


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