Cyberbullying – a growing concern in a connected society

Megan Meier was just twelve years old when the events began that would ultimately lead to her death. Like many teenagers, Megan had accounts on common social networks, including MySpace, where she first met “Josh Evans”. Ostensibly a sixteen-year old boy, “Josh” was actually an accumulation of Sarah, an old friend of Megan’s, Sarah’s mother, Lori Drew, and Ashley, a teenage employee of Drew’s. Megan and “Josh” became online friends, and her family were pleased that she seemed generally happier. However, on Monday, 16th of October, 2006, “Josh” sent a message to Megan stating that he no longer wished to continue their friendship. “The world would be a better place without you”, he claimed. Some of the private messages Megan had sent during the course of their online acquaintanceship were posted publicly, and defamatory bulletins were written about her and shared with other members of the site.

Shortly after the friendship came to an end, Megan was found hanged in her bedroom closet.

What moves people to do such things? How big a problem is cyberbullying? And what, if anything, can be done about it?

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