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Monday, February 04, 2008

PR-hungry parents vs. sick cyber bullies

I am so sick of Megan Meier's mother (say that five times fast).

Some very brief background: Megan Meier was an eighth grade girl who killed herself after a former friend and her former friend's mother, Lori Drew, made a fake MySpace page of a "hot boy" named Josh. "Josh" started out as friendly and flirtatious with Megan, then grew vicious and vile, after which Meier hung herself with a belt. Megan's mother, Tina, has appeared on every imaginable talk show since her daughter's death to draw attention to the problem of cyber bullying.

Is what Lori Drew and her daughter did justifiable, mature, or intelligent? Of course not. It is despicable, childish, and stupid; and yes, it is harassment, and it should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

However, anyone who lives or dies by MySpace clearly has some psychological problems already that need to be addressed. No mentally healthy human being commits suicide, least of all because of an online acquaintance. An article in Meier's hometown newspaper, The St. Charles Journal, described Megan Meier as a pudgy teenager diagnosed with ADD and periodic bouts with depression. A symptom of depression is weight fluctuation, and shortly before Megan's death, she'd lost weight. Why wasn't Tina Meier paying attention? Why did Tina Meier allow her daughter to talk to strangers online? For all she knew, "Josh" could have been a 43-year-old babyshaking pedophile with a braceface fetish, but that never came to mind until it was too late.

The Tina/Megan Meier media blitz seems more like a ploy for publicity to camouflage mediocre parenting than a method of pushing forward potential legislation. Sure, a high profile case will make lawmakers pay more attention--but seriously, how many Congressmen do you know watch Tyra?

*By Jessica, who is taking a sick day and will surely get flak for this post

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