Teen’s Suicide Spurs Anti-Cyberbullying Law

November 25th, 2007 - 12:17 am ICT by admin  

More than a year ago, in October 2006, a 13-year-old school girl named Megan Meier hanged herself in her home in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri. An investigation initially revealed that Meier, who had long battled depression, committed suicide after receiving some cruel messages on the MySpace.com social networking site. The messages were supposedly from a 16-year-old acquaintance named Josh Evans.

The two teens had been exchanging messages for about six weeks, but Evans’s messages had grown steadily more hostile. According to reports, his last message to Meier was that she was “cruel” and a “bad person.”

Dramatic Turn of Events

But then the case took a dramatic twist. It turned out that “Josh Evans” did not exist — he was allegedly the invention of a woman named Lori Drew, the mother of another girl with whom Meier had been fighting. Law enforcement authorities contend that Drew created the online profile to communicate with and harass Meier online.

After discovering that “Josh Evans” was a fake profile, state and federal prosecutors searched for a law under which to charge Drew, but were unable to find one that fit the circumstances of the case.

Outraged by the absence of a law to punish the harassment of Meier, some Dardenne Prairie residents have meted out their own justice. According to reports from the Los Angeles Times, a wide range of personal information about the Drew family — including photos, their home and e-mail addresses, and their home phone number — has been posted on the Internet.

Some residents have even held protests on the sidewalk in front of the Drew home. In response, the Drews have installed surveillance equipment on their property.

New Law Adopted

Just last week, however, the community’s Board of Alderman passed a new law that makes cyberbullying a crime. It is now a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine…

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