An article today talked about a teen who committed suicide after a rather cruel Myspace prank:
The parents of Megan Meier of Dardenne Prairie, who hanged herself last year, said her suicide came minutes after she received mean messages through the social networking site MySpace. – [Yahoo/AP]
Now that is very tragic. Teen suicides are probably the saddest thing that can happen, and probably the most devastating thing that can occur to a parent.
A police report said that a mother from the neighborhood and her 18-year-old employee fabricated a profile for a teenage boy online who pretended to be interested in Megan before he began bullying her. – [Yahoo/AP]
OK now this is just plain mean and senseless. Some people really need to get a life. That 18 year old seriously needs a date or something…
After the case became public, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt asked lawmakers to review state law to see if changes were necessary to better deal with cases that involve Internet bullying. Some municipalities have also considered or passed statutes to strengthen laws that deal with Internet harassement. – [Yahoo/AP]
Ah, of course. The obligatory knee-jerk, parent activist motivated legislative law passing that is bound to bite us in the rear at some point in the future…
What is truly sad about this incident, isn’t that internet laws aren’t tough enough, bullying laws aren’t tough enough or even, as an extreme example of the futility of this kind of lawmaking, that suicide laws aren’t tough enough. The truly sad thing was that the teen wasn’t tough enough.
Here is the thing. I have known kids who were beaten down and abused daily by their parents, who did not kill themselves. I’ve seen kids grow up in environments that would mentally cripple an adult. But they actually became tougher, stronger and more resilient.
When I was growing up, many of my friends and I were subjected to actual physical bullying. Not stupid disparaging emails. Actually, we didn’t have email. I would have preferred to be bullied by email. But the thing is, none of us contemplated suicide, only survival. None of them have committed suicide. Not one.
My point is this. The internet bullying isn’t the big problem. It’s the way kids today are raised. The ones that commit suicide tend to have considered it long before they ever do, and need special treatment. Or even better yet, to have been raised differently.
If it isn’t internet bullying, it will be failing a test, buckling under peer pressure, failing to achieve a goal later in life, who knows. No law will prevent that mindset. But good parenting, and where necessary, the right treatments, can. So let’s quit making stupid knee-jerk laws, and focus on how to treat suicide prone teens, indeed how to properly raise our kids so they don’t become suicide prone teens.
Seriously, if all it takes for your teen to kill themselves are mean emails from someone they really don’t even know, don’t you think there must be something else terribly wrong?
No charges in MySpace suicide case – [Yahoo/AP]