Category Archives: Bullying

Cyber Harassment

I’m just sickened to hear the news that Lori Drew was only convicted on three misdemeanor counts of unauthorized access to computers after she, her then 18 – year-old assistant, and her teen daughter plotted to humiliate a neighbor 13-year-old…who ended up killing herself because of the emotional pain she endured at their fingertips on the computer keys.

You’ve probably heard the story: the young girl committed suicide in October of 2006 after the end of her online relationship with a fictitious 16-year-old-boy created on a fake MySpace account.  According to various news reports, the trio used the account to contact and befriend Megan.  Within a few days, Lori Drew encouraged her daughter and her assistant to on-line flirt with Megan; they planned to lure Megan to a mall to confront her with the hoax and taunt her.

As things go and grow, another neighborhood girl got involved in the whole thing and sent Megan a message – as if she were the fictitious boy – that he didn’t want to be friends anymore.  Lori Drew’s assistant then, according to the District Attorney, wrote, “the world would be a better place without you in it.”

Twenty minutes later, Megan’s mother found her hanging from her belt in her bedroom closet.

I’m not a lawyer and I don’t really understand all the legal machinations about what criminal behavior this planned cruelty constitutes, but it’s clear that there’s no real punishment for people who misrepresent themselves on an internet chat site with the INTENT to do emotional harm to a child known to have several psychiatric disorders.  Federal and state laws appear to be mute on this issue, and while companies like MySpace have “Terms Of Agreement” (which is kinda what “caught” Lori Drew, because she didn’t abide by those terms), they don’t have much in the way of “teeth” – often the most they can do is terminate the service of the offender.

Imagine: one mother decided to drive another mother’s child to devastating emotional pain as entertainment; she includes her own young teen daughter and a young adult employee….and they all have a great time of it.  No one charged the assistant or the daughter, even though they were all complicit in the intent to do emotional harm.
 
I hope there is a civil court for something like wrongful death so that these people pay some price for their evil cruelty.

Now – add to that the parental responsibility of more supervision of this vulnerable, fragile, emotionally compromised child…her parents had reversed the lock on her bedroom for her “safety,” as they were aware that she had problems.  Children without psychiatric issues ought not have unsupervised access to the internet or text messaging or any form of communication without parental oversight.  Children with psychiatric issues are at more risk. 

Recently, another teenager, this one 19, overdosed with several medications to kill himself while his computer stayed on so that everyone on the net could watch him die.  There was a huge rageful response to folks waiting 12 hours before reporting this situation to the net site or the police…who came too late.

It seems that he’d done this before, so many folks thought he was playing “wolf,” others just didn’t care, some showed concern, and others just “egged” him on….the same way folks on the ground often “egg on” a person threatening to jump from a tall building.  There are always creeps about.

What was curious to me is that the reports of this event include that the boy died in his father’s room and on his bed; that he used a combination of prescription and illegal medications.  Again we have a pathetically ill young man without proper supervision by those who could understand and help him.  It sounds like he needed hospitalization.

The Internet gives young folks the attention and pseudo-importance they naturally crave.  It is also a conduit for evil…the same way electricity is neutral…unless you try to electrocute somebody with it.

Parents have to be less casual about the evil that comes through all these technological marvels of communication.