13 year old Megan Meier committed suicide. Hung herself with a belt in the closet, because a boy on the internet told her, the world would be better off without her in it.
Today, 49 year old Lori Drew was found guilty on three counts of misdemeanor computer crimes, with a sentence of 3 years in jail, and 300,000 dollars in fines. What makes both of these stories important, and connected, is that Lori Drew, 49 year old mother from Missouri, is also the little boy that basically convinced Megan Meier to commit suicide because Megan made some hurtful comments to her daughter in school.
Lori felt justified in creating a fake myspace account to basically seduce Megan online, and then crush her. Apparently her ultimate goal succeeded. The resulting suicide must have felt like icing on the cake to Lori who wanted to destroy Megan for just a few words said to her daughter.
Cyber bullies, regardless of age, always feel justified for their actions. The victims of these computer crimes are made to feel that they are the ones starting the fights when it’s the bullies that actually start the trouble. If the victims are driven to leave the internet, or even commit suicide, the bullies get their happy feeling, and they feel powerful, even though in real life they are powerless cowards.
Cyber bullies, away from the computer, have usually been victims themselves, and feel that they can they can somehow regain their power by using the anonymity of the computer to make someone else feel lower than they feel.
As a result of this case, Missouri has become the first state to adopt anti-cyber harassment laws, which promise harsh punishment for cyber bullies. I believe this is something very important to me, since my wife is being constantly harassed by cyber bullies. While she has me and her family to help her through, not every one has someone to help them. I think that every state should adopt laws against these types of computer crimes.
If you feel as I do, write to your state representatives, and senators to make a law protecting victims of these kinds of computer crimes. Another thing you can do is if you go into chat rooms or see any kind of harassment, report them. If enough people report them they can lose their accounts. If people pull together and get cyber bullies banned, we can take the sting out of their words and make the internet a fun and safe place for people to interact.