Thursday, May 15, 2008

Charges are Coming

Apparently, there will be a price to pay for cyber-bullying after all.

According to the Smoking Gun, there will be an imminent announcement that charges will be filed by a grand jury in the case of 13-year-old Megan Meier, the girl who killed herself after a "friend" turned on her on MySpace. It was discovered that the friend was not a real person but a fake account set up by the mother of a former friend of Megan's who wanted to see if Megan was saying bad things about her daughter. On the last day of Megan's life, she got a message telling her that the world would be better without her, and she ran up to her room and hung herself in her closet. Initially, Lori Drew (the mother who instigated the MySpace page) seemed to feel bad for Megan's family, but she has later said that she didn't feel responsible for what happened because she heard that Megan had tried to kill herself before, implying that Megan would've done this without the hoax. However, Megan's parents say that the child was never suicidal; she suffered from depression but had never tried to kill herself before this occurred in 2006. It doesn't matter if she was previously suicidal; what this woman did was wrong, and the fact that charges are being pursued at all is surprising and impressive. The article I linked to also has a link to statements from the 19-year-old who also played a role in this tragedy; a girl who is getting immunity in exchange for her cooperation and testimony.

Initially, there were going to be no charges filed because there was nothing on the books against cyber-bullying in the area (there are some now), but this is being tried in a federal setting and I wonder how this is going to turn out.

As a former troubled teenager who struggled with severe depression, I feel for the girl and her family. At least her family knew about her depression and were trying to help her (I kept it a secret and I still haven't told them that it's something I struggle with to this day), but the fact that a grown woman would do this is despicable. It's not the spying [so much] that I don't approve of (there have to be better methods than this), it's the idea that she encouraged people to say hateful things to a vulnerable 13-year-old that cuts me to the core. Why would anyone think bullying is acceptable in any form? What is it about the Internet that brings out the worst in people?

I wish I knew.

I have a friend who had a Facebook group dedicated to making fun of him and he found out about it and decided to respond by posting a Facebook blog where he linked the names of everyone who had joined the group who were also supposed to be his friends. One of them had the audacity to complain that she shouldn't have been listed because she quit the group a month after joining it. It's like saying that you shouldn't be convicted of being part of a lynch mob because you went home before the body was strung up. It's one thing to be anonymous on the Internet, but it's another thing when you are on Facebook and everybody knows that you are a part of something, which means they were being stupid if they thought he would never find out. It's like a small town; everyone is going to know your business. Fortunately, his story didn't end in tragedy, but it bothers me that people would do this at all.

I really hope that Megan's family can find some peace after all of this. I don't know how I'd handle this if it were my child and I hope that there can be a stop to this so that it doesn't happen to anyone else's child.

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