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Charges Filed in MySpace Cyber-bullying
Megan Taylor Meier was thirteen years old when she hung herself in her bedroom closet on October 16, 2008. What happened in the minutes, days, and weeks before Megan killed herself has become a heated controversy not only between two families who live only a couple houses away from each other in suburban Missouri, but across the entire nation. Incredibly federal authorities are charging Lori Drew, with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on a minor.
Lori Drew accused of creating a false MySpace account in the name of a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. Josh (who does not exist) and “Josh” began talking to Megan through her MySpace account. Megan Meier was excited about her new friendship. Suddenly things turned ugly online. “Josh” called Megan names and at one point told her “the world would be a better place with out her.” Megan took those words to heart.
When the Meier’s first talked about their daughter’s death people across the nation were outraged that an adult could harass a child online with no repercussions. Missouri authorities investigated the circumstances to Megan’s suicide and were unable to determine any laws had been broken. Megan’s home town of Dardenne Prairie soon passed a law making cyber-bullying or internet harassment illegal. Other towns and municipalities are following suit.
A new Missouri state law passed this week in Jefferson City Missouri making internet bullying a crime. This law passed only two days after Federal authorities charged Lori Drew. Missouri Governor Matt Blunt will need to sign the new Missouri state law into effect. The new law indicates that we will no longer tolerate people using the internet as a way to hide while inflicting harm on another. The internet feels anonymous to most people. In reality, people leave a trail of their cyber activity, and law enforcement personnel can track this online activity across the World Wide Web. It is this very feeling of anonymity that helps forensic officers solve cases involving missing and exploited children.
The controversy surrounding Megan’s suicide divided families and communities across the nation. Many people blamed bad parenting for Megan’s death, while other people blamed Lori Drew for acting irresponsibly as an adult, even though no one could have imagined the outcome in this situation. An employee of the Drew’s, Ashley Grilles, claims she was the one writing the day Megan killed herself.
Regardless of who is responsible for the death of Megan Taylor Meier no one will ever know how many people she will touch with her story of cyber-bullying. I hope that everyone will think twice before calling anyone names. I wonder how many other young teens like Megan Meier have taken their lives due to an online cyber-harassment situation. I said before I truly believe cyber-suicide is a word we will all become familiar with in the years to come.
Please feel free to post in the MEC Forum about your own online experiences. Until next time may, angels keep you safe.
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