Megan Meier may not be “patient zero” of a cyberbullying epidemic, but the strange twist associated with her case (i.e., that an adult was responsible for the bullying) has certainly caused her name to become synonomous with the plight of the cyberbully victims. Now, in another sad twist to this story, the woman behind the fake MySpace persona that tormented Megan may get off scott free, according to this article. This is simply more evidence that our laws have yet to catch up with the technological advances in cyber space.
When it comes to online behavior and the dangers associated with our children, cyberbullying is quickly becoming more of a concern to parents than online predators. If there is anything positive that has come from Megan’s story, it is that it helped to bring cyberbullying to the forefront. Many states have enacted new laws to deal with cyberbullies, but there is still more work to be done.
As always, the more involved parents can be in their child’s online activities, the faster they will be able to react to the clues of cyberbullying, and the easier it will be to prevent a tragedy such as Megan’s. Know what your children are doing online, and who they are talking to – and what others are saying to and about your children. Watch for cases where your children may be cyberbullying others as well – young kids can be extremely hurtful in person, and the anonymity of the web only magnifies their bravado, causing them to say things online that they would never dare to say in person.
Cyberbullying is a real problem – with a real solution. While our lawmakers continue to strive to enact laws to protect victims of cyberbullying, may we as parents continue to get more involved in our children’s online lives, and help them understand the line between harmless banter and hurtfull comments with real-life consequences.