Increased Awareness of Cyberbullying
5/8/2009 10:32:00 AM
Megan Meier was only 13 when she committed suicide in 2006 after being harassed on MySpace by a neighbor in her Missouri hometown pretending to be a 16-year-old boy. The tragedy and subsequent prosecution of the neighbor drew national attention and spurred California Representative Linda Sanchez to sponsor the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, which was recently introduced to the House.
However, with the courts and law enforcement agencies playing catch-up, many schools have tried to establish new rules and punishments for online harassment or abusive behavior by their students. But these rules are by no means universally applied and schools have stressed that they can’t do it alone, urging parents to become more involved in monitoring their children’s online activities.
Megan’s mother, Tina Meier, has taken the message of parental involvement on board and now travels the country providing schools and parents with anti-cyberbullying training and advice. She started the Megan Meier Foundation to help promote her desire to “bring awareness, education, and promote positive change in response to the ongoing bullying and cyberbullying in our children’s daily environment.”
She advises parents to monitor their teens’ online activity as closely as possible, while recognizing that even the most open children will probably keep some secrets from their parents. Creating a Facebook or MySpace account will help parents familiarize themselves with the sites their children are using, says Meier. She also encourages parents to use Google or the other search engines to see if their child’s name appears on any web sites or comments pages.
Meier hopes that her work and the work of others will help prevent another case like Megan’s. As she told People Magazine: "The pain of losing Megan will never go away, but it has lessened with the knowledge that I can help another child, another family."
The Online Mom