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Copyright © 2009 Parry Aftab, All Rights Reserved by Wired Safety Megan Meier’s Story
Copyright © 2009 Parry Aftab, All Rights Reserved by Wired Safety What is Cyberbullying? Cyberbullying is any communication sent by a minor via instant message, e-mail, game device, etc. that is meant to scare, humiliate, hurt, or manipulate another minor. Short definition: It’s when one young person uses digital technology to hurt another young person.
Copyright © 2009 Parry Aftab, All Rights Reserved by Wired Safety Think it Doesn’t Affect Teens? Think Again. These teens all took their lives after being cyberbullied, and they aren’t the only ones.
Copyright © 2009 Parry Aftab, All Rights Reserved by Wired Safety Megan Meier’s Story Megan was three weeks away from her fourteenth birthday when she died. She had been bullied most of her life, especially in middle school. She was heavier than her classmates because of medication she was taking. But Megan’s luck began to turn around when she met “Josh” a sixteen-year-old boy, on MySpace. Megan and Josh were soon exchanging messages daily. They chatted for six weeks, and Megan’s feelings intensified. It was the first time a boy had ever thought she was “pretty.” She thought her life was turning around.
Copyright © 2009 Parry Aftab, All Rights Reserved by Wired Safety Then Things Changed – Fast! One day, out-of-the-blue, Josh told Megan, “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.” Megan was shocked and confused. The next day, the messages continued. Other teens joined in and cruelly taunted her about her weight, which she had struggled with since childhood. Megan’s mother Tina, who normally monitored her MySpace account, was not home at the time of the attacks. Over 2-1/2 hours she was attacked and tried to defend herself. But it only got worse.
Copyright © 2009 Parry Aftab, All Rights Reserved by Wired Safety Words Do Hurt! Megan became hysterical. She had called her mother who told her to sign off right away. But she didn’t. When her mother came home, she was angry with her daughter for continuing to argue with the bullies. “You’re supposed to take my side!” Megan expressed in vain as she stormed to her bedroom. When Tina noticed that the last message on her daughter’s screen was, “The world would be a better place without you,” and her daughter’s response “You’re a boy worth dying for…” she rushed to her daughter’s bedroom.
Copyright © 2009 Parry Aftab, All Rights Reserved by Wired Safety Too Late for Megan…Still Time for You and Your Friends It was too late to save Megan, who had hanged herself in her bedroom closet. (She died the next day.) Tina Meier was outraged when it was revealed that Josh never existed. Josh was the creation of Lori Drew, a mother of one of Megan’s former friends. She had wanted to gain Megan’s trust in order to see if Megan was talking about her daughter. (So she testified.) Lori Drew was criminally charged, but the charges later dismissed.
Copyright © 2009 Parry Aftab, All Rights Reserved by Wired Safety Some Teens Did Something… Teens in NY decided to do something, instead of just feeling bad about what happened to Megan and others. They created a pledge for all students to take as a school and named it for Megan. The Megan Pledge uses black and white polka dots (Megan’s favorite) as its theme. It has a large banner students can sign, pledge certificates and helps them create ribbons to wear.
Copyright © 2009 Parry Aftab, All Rights Reserved by Wired Safety StopCyberbullying Take the Megan Pledge and commit yourself to understanding that suicide is never an option. Become part of the solution instead of the problem by promising to never engage in cyberbullying and to report it whenever you see it. For more information about the Megan Pledge and what you can do to help, visit StopCyberbullying.org
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