Kim Myers and Tina Meier have a lot in common. They're both Moms. They both live in Missouri. They both have similar last names. And tragically both of their young children committed suicide iafter being bullied by their peers.
Tina Meier is the Mom of 13-year-old Megan Meier, the girl who killed herself in October 2006 after being cyber-bullied on MySpace. Kim Myers is the Mom of 12-year-old Brandon Myers, the fifth-grader who took his own life in February 2007 after being bullied at school.
Here, in Tina's own words:
"First, to Kim: Unfortunately, when a child takes their own life, weâ€™re kind of thrown into this horrible world of mothers and parents that we never asked to be thrown into. After Megan committed suicide, I talked to other parentsâ€¦there are no words to make you feel any better or any different, only hugs. What I can say to you thatâ€™s helped me try to heal is: Iâ€™ve tried to make sure that Meganâ€™s passing not be in vain. The fight for Megan keeps me going. Maybe the fight for Brandon will also help you heal, as my fight for Megan has for me.
"Brandonâ€™s situation is slightly different because he was bullied in school and Megan was bullied online. I feel schools need to create programs to educate children, parents, faculty, and staff about bullying. There need to be systems and programs in place, and the schools need to do something about this. Bullying cannot go on any longer!
"I donâ€™t push other grieving Moms to speak about this or work alongside me, because everyone has to grieve in their own way. It took me a long time to get where I am today. But I am fighting to make and change the bullying laws in this country. If something like this happens again, I believe someone should be brought to justice. With the laws the way they are now, not enough can be done in the court system. The state of Missouri where we live is working on harassment lawsâ€”and I'm working to make sure these laws include computers, the Internet, and handheld devices like a cell phone or Blackberry.
"I am not returning to work in real estate. Besides fighting for more laws, my life's mission is to go into schools and try to institute programs about bullying and cyber-bullying for children. In addition, we need workshops for parents and educators. If we donâ€™t have those, weâ€™re never going to get anywhere. I want posters put on the walls of every school for children to go to if they canâ€™t go to counselors, parents, or teachers. Children rarely talk to adults, and they need a different outlet. They need to know where to go and what to do. I am hoping once we get these programs in place, we can get the word out.
"Moms are always asking me how they can help. The best way Moms can help stop bullying is to implement these educational programs in their area, and put an end to all this madness.
"Children will always call each other names, but bullying is the repeated behavior day in and day out. Itâ€™s the bully's constant drive to not let it go. Weâ€™re never going to get away from name-calling, but children have to understand there is a difference between calling someone a name when theyâ€™re having a bad day versus bullying someone. Being mean isnâ€™t necessarily bullying someone, but continually [attacking] a child with mean words or physical violence is. Children need to understand the difference, and they need to stop the behavior."
We reached out to friend of Momâ€˘Logic Ross Ellis of Love Our Children USA for warning signs your child is being bullied at school. She says the main signs to look for are:
- sudden appearance of bruises
- missing belongings
- the invention of mysterious illnesses or stomachaches to avoid going to school
Even if you are close to your child, he may not come to you with complaints of bullying. "Your child may be embarrassed or feel weak by admitting he's the victim of a bully," she says. For more information on how to help stop bullying and school violence, click here. If you fear your child is being bullied, Ellis offers a printable Bullying Prevention Bill of Rights that you can give to school officials here.