How technology fuels bullying

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, explains how technology has changed the face of bullying
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How technology fuels bullying

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We realize that bullying today, the traditional bullying of the repeated name calling, the repeated making fun of somebody, that those things face to face still happen. But now that we have the technology, it's come into a whole entirely different world. And the reason is children have technology before they can even walk and talk. And when we see now that elementary school , middle school, and high school students have the cell phones, have this technology at their hands, it is with them 24 hours a day. So it's much easier for them now to talk about another person, make fun of somebody else, and do it through technology versus the face-to-face interaction. They're less likely to get in trouble. They can do it anonymously. So they can sit and laugh back behind the scenes. And then the other kid has no idea what's going on or who is saying it. So many times it's done in very negative ways. Technology we always know is phenomenal. And it's great. We all use it. But it can also be used very negatively to hurt other kids. And children know technology more than the adults know. They know the brand new apps that come out. They know how to utilize them. There's no possible way every parent is going to know every brand new app, every social media site that's out there. Again, at the end of the day, we really realize that this is becoming very important. And the best thing for parents to do is to make sure that they do understand technology, they at least understand how the cell phone works and operates, and that they talk to their children about limitations and the consequences of using it in a negative way.

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, explains how technology has changed the face of bullying

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Tina Meier

Executive Director

Tina Meier is an internationally recognized expert on bullying, cyberbullying, internet safety, conflict resolution, the roles of parents and educators, sexting, and suicide awareness and prevention.

On October 16, 2006, Tina Meier’s life took a devastating turn when her 13 year old daughter, Megan Taylor Meier, took her own life. All attempts were made to save Megan, but unfortunately Megan passed away on October 17, 2006, just weeks from her 14th birthday.

Approximately 5 weeks prior to her passing, a 16 year old boy by the name of Josh Evans, contacted Megan through her MySpace account and they began a friendship. Tina Meier, allowed Megan to have a MySpace account with many restrictions and under her watchful eye.  Unfortunately, on that fateful day of October 16, 2006, Josh Evans and Megan began to have an argument over MySpace.  A few others joined in and horrible and hurtful messages and bulletins went out publicly to hundreds of kids. The last words that were said to Megan from Josh were, “The world would be a better place without you” and “Have a shi**y rest of your life.”

Six weeks after Megan’s suicide, Tina Meier was informed that Josh Evans never existed. In fact, he was the fictitious creation of Lori Drew, an adult neighbor that lived down the street, her 13-year-old daughter Sarah, which was Megan’s former friend, and an 18-year-old employee that worked out of Lori Drew’s home.

In December of 2007, Tina Meier, founded the 501 (c)(3) non-profit Megan Meier Foundation.  The Foundation’s mission is to “create awareness, education and promote positive change to children, parents and educators in response to the ongoing bullying and cyberbullying in our children’s daily environment.” Tina’s hope is to make a difference through spreading Megan’s story, create awarness regarding internet safety, and educate others on the consequences of bullying and cyberbullying. She hopes to help one child at a time cope with these negative social issues. Ultimately, her goal is to empower children to be the change and continue the Foundation’s mission.

At the time of this tragedy, the State of Missouri did not have laws in place to prosecute someone using electronic communications to cyberbully another person. Tina worked closely with Senator Scott Rupp and Governor Matt Blunt’s Internet Task Force for the State of Missouri to help pass Senate Bill 818, which went into law on August 28, 2008. This law amended the harassment and stalking laws to include electronic communication.

Each year, Tina travels throughout the country as a keynote speaker addressing the issue of bullying and cyberbullying in today’s world to students, educators, administrators, parents, youth rallies, counselors, law enforcement, and other professionals. Through Tina’s inspirational and educational message, the audience is empowered to make a difference not only for themselves, but others also.

Tina has continued to spread the Foundation’s message and Megan’s story through national and international media appearances such as network television stations, radio, news shows, magazines and syndicated talk shows. She also accepted a Presidential invitation to attend the 2011 White House Anti-Bullying Conference, presented at the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools National Conference in Washington, DC, and served as a consultant during the production of the ABC Family movie, Cyberbully.

Tina Meier resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with her daughter Allison. 

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