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Cyber Bullying: Dangers and Tragic Consequences

May 12, 2011
By Samantha Parsons of Centralia High School Activities

      "Everybody in O'Fallon knows who you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a bad rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you." This email, sent by a boy  13-year-old Megan Meier believed existed, was the last thing she read before hanging herself in her bedroom closet. The number of heartbreaking stories such as Megan’s has consistently risen with the many social networking websites in the world; the epidemic of cyber bullying has only gotten worse within the past decade and needs to be brought to the attention of the people in America.

            Megan Meier was a fun-loving and bubbly girl who had a history of psychological problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder and depression. She was living a normal teenage life. In October of 2006, a female classmate began bullying Megan because of her boy-crazy nature. Out of haste, the girl's mom, 37-year-old Lori Drew, created a fake Myspace account for a boy named “Josh Evans.” With the account, Drew began communicating with Megan under Evans’ name and developing a personal relationship with her. Meier was led to believe that Josh Evans was a real person who had just moved into the town she lived in, was homeschooled, and only had a computer to communicate with at the time. For the next few weeks, emails were exchanged over Myspace, and a romantic relationship began to develop between Megan and the boy she believed was real.

            The romance continued for several weeks until the tone of the emails being sent to Megan changed. Emails saying, “I don't know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I've heard that you are not very nice to your friends" were sent to Megan’s’ account. Many other things were said on the site about Meier such as “Megan Meier is a slut."  She responded to the email saying, “You’re the type of boy a girl would kill herself over.” Twenty minutes later, her mother found in her closet, hanging. Despite revival attempts, Megan Meier died the next day.

            The case of Megan Meier is a prime example of how cyber bullying can easily get out of hand with teenagers in America. Though a relatively new hot topic, it has grown into one of the biggest teen problems around the world. Cyber bullying is defined as  sending offensive messages through either a cell phone or email, spreading rumors online, pretending to be someone else online to hurt another person, or circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person. According to the I-safe foundation, 1 in 3 young people said they have experiences cyber threats online and about ten to twenty percent say they experience cyber bullying online. These numbers have caught the attention of Facebook and President Barack Obama.

            On March 10th, 2011, Michelle and Barack Obama released a Public Service Announcement over Facebook cautioning teens across America to be aware of how dangerous and serious cyber bullying is. In the past, Facebook had hosted anti-bullying content, but this event brought the issue to a new level of urgency.

            Even in a small town like Centralia, cyber bullying is very prominent within the community. A high school student, easily identified as a cyber bullying aggressor on the issue: “I feel like I don’t cyber bully anyone, unless they really ask for it.” Many people like this student have this same mindset about cyber bullying; they don’t think cyber bullying has much, if any, long- term effects on victims. A Centralia High School student who has been repeatedly victimized through cyber bullying states: “People that do [cyber bully] don’t have a life; some people are just naturally mean. A lot of people don’t know what’s going through the persons head that they’re doing it to, or how they view themselves because of what they’re told on how to be.”  Two very polar opinions, indeed.

            In a tight-knit community such as Centralia, problems such as cyber bullying don’t get much light shed on them. Why? Possibly because most of us believe that in no way a case similar to Megan Meier could happen to a community this close. Or maybe it’s because cyber bullying is a “hear no evil, see no evil” kind of thing; no one knows for sure. However, one thing is certain: This issue is in great need of being made known to the teenagers in every community, no matter what. Far too many stories have come out about teenagers attempting suicide over what another person has said over the internet to them. This problem must be solved sooner than later in order to save the upcoming generations of America.

 The source used for all information in the above story is listed below. This is a website dedicated to Megan, created by her mom, to let the world know about the tragic story. To read more, and possibly help the cause visit the site:  http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/

For an interview of her parents talking about the issue of cyber bullying watch the Youtube video produced by CNN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFsfDLCkfQU

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