DoSomething.org notes nearly 43 percent of kids have been bullied online and 1 in 4 have been bullied more than once. Over 80 percent believe cyberbullying is so rampant because it is easier to get away with than face-to-face bullying. This is true, but not always. Below is a list of the more notable cases involving cyberbullies who had to post bond before posting online.
1. In 2009, Keeley Houghton, 18, was sentenced to three months in a youth offenders’ facility in England. Houghton pleaded guilty to harassing Emily Moore on Facebook. According to court records, Houghton wrote on her Facebook page, “Keeley is going to murder the b—-.” Houghton bullied Moore for four years since they were at school. The court banned Houghton from contacting Moore in any manner for five years. Houghton is believed to be the first person sentenced for cyberbullying.
2. Rebecca Sedwick was 12 when she jumped to her death in 2013. Sedwick was the victim of online harassment by two girls age 14 and 12. Because of the ages of the defendants, authorities did not reveal their names. The older of the two was believed to be the instigator. She was dating a boy Sedwick was also seeing. On her Facebook page, the girl wrote, “Yes. I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but I don’t give a f—.” Both girls were arrested.
3. In 2011, Matthew Bean was sentenced to 45 days in jail for posting explicit photos a man took of himself when he was 13. Prosecutors accused Bean of belonging to an electronic mob that was intent on driving the victim to suicide. Bean and his cohorts discovered the photos online. After determining the identity of the victim, Bean sent the photos to the victim’s school under the guise of being a concerned parent. Unlike Sedwick, the victim did not commit suicide.
4. Lori Drew, herself the mother of a teenage daughter, drove a 13-year-old girl to suicide. In 2006, Megan Meier was making plans for her lavish 14th birthday. Three weeks before the date, she hanged herself in her bedroom closet. Two years later, Drew became the first person to face federal charges for cyberbullying.
The saga unfolded after Megan had a falling out with Drew’s daughter. Drew extracted revenge by posing as a teenage boy on MySpace. Drew’s alter ego, Josh, befriended Megan and nurtured an online romance before turning on the teenager. From her daughter, Drew knew Megan suffered from depression. In one post, she wrote, “The world would be better off without you.” Drew faced up to 20 years in prison. Instead, jurors found her guilty of three misdemeanors. A federal judge eventually acquitted Drew of all charges.
The Megan Meier Foundation
Following her daughter’s suicide, Tina Meier created The Megan Meier Foundation. The Foundation seeks to inform parents and educators about the dangers of cyberbullying. According to the site’s website, the Foundation has shared Megan’s story with over 234,000 people.
For more information on your state’s anti-bullying laws (in-person and cyber) and how to keep your children safe online, visit StopBullying.gov.
Being a teenager can be tough enough without having to worry about some pest carrying out an online vendetta. Sovereign Health Group’s adolescent program in Rancho San Diego helps teens work through mental disorders and substance abuse that can result from bullying. If you child is having trouble, contact our 24/7 helpline for information on how we can help.
About the Author
Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health Group. He worked two and half years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org