Cyberbullying is an awful epidemic that is greatly affecting our world. Young children, teens and even adults are cyber bullied by others for no reason, and unfortunately, this tragic form of bullying is so brutal that it forces some people to take their own lives just to make it stop.
Nobody wants to be bullied to the point where they take their own life, and nobody should want to bully someone else to that point either. Some people don’t think that cyber bullying will have any consequence, but it does. The following are three cases in which cyber bullying led to suicide.
1. Megan Meier
MeganMeier was a 13-year-old girl from Missouri. Though she had some underlying issues with self esteem, Megan was considered bubbly by many who knew her. In 2006, she became the victim of cyber bullying.
A woman named Lori Drew, her daughter and Drew’s employee, Ashley Grills, created a fake MySpace account under the name of Josh Evans. They had “Josh” contact Megan and start befriending her on MySpace. The two started sending messages to each other and were friendly. Then, in October, “Josh” started sending Megan awful and rude messages via MySpace, telling her that she had no friends and nobody in town liked her. One message ended with “The world would be better off without you.” A short 21 minutes later, Megan was found in her closet where she had hung herself.
Once news of the cyber bullying hit the media—and especially since it involved an adult harassing a child—there was a frenzy. Someone posted Drew’s phone number online, and many took the opportunity to call and harass the family. Drew was eventually charged with Megan’s death, but was acquitted after one year of trial. On May 22, 2008, a law was passed into congress, which criminalizes the use of the Internet to harass someone.
2. Phoebe Prince
PhoebePrince was a 16-year-old girl who was born in Ireland but moved to Massachusetts with her family. As the new student in school, Phoebe was harassed on a regular basis by other students. Girls were taunting her for being friendly with their boyfriends. The bullying continued for months, both online and in school, and on January 14, 2010, Phoebe hung herself in the stairwell of her family’s apartment after another student threw a can at her as she walked home from school. Even after she had died, some students posted awful messages about her on her Facebook page.
Six students were charged with the death of Phoebe Prince. In May 2011, five of the defendants were placed on probation and sentenced with community service.
3. Tyler Clementi
TylerClementi was an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University. One night, Clementi asked his roommate, a man named Dharun Ravi, to leave the room so he could have time in the room alone. Ravi left his webcam on and captured video of Clementi being romantic with an unnamed man. Ravi watched the recording with another student, Molly Wei. Ravi then shared the video with others through Twitter.
On another night when Clementi had asked Ravi to leave the room, Ravi posted messages telling friends that they could follow the latest webcam video live. When Clementi returned to the room, he found the computer facing his bed and disabled the webcam and unplugged the computer before any footage was recorded.
Though Clementi had sent messages to university personnel requesting a single room, nothing ever happened. On September 22, 2010, Clementi posted a message to Facebook stating “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry”. His body was found in the Hudson seven days later.
Both Molly Wei and Dharun Ravi were charged with invasion of privacy relating to Clementi’s death. For a reduced sentence, Wei accepted a plea agreement and received 300 hours of community service. Ravi received a worse sentence, with 30 days in jail, three years of probation and 300 hours of community service.
Cyber bullying has serious effects. Lives should not be taken as a result of a horrible epidemic. Though schools and parents are trying to put a stop to it, it seems as if cyber bullying will continue until everyone understands the consequences.
Ben Myers is a college English professor. He is currently grading a huge stack of To Kill a Mockingbird essays. In his spare time, Ben likes to blog about the effects of cyber bullying on kids and young adults.