Cyber Bullying

Written by Christianity and the Confusion on April 10th, 2009

Author: Marty Martorella

   Growing up my family moved a lot, which meant that I was always the new kid on the block. In school that made me a target for the bullies, that is until I learned how to fight back. I can still remember my Dad telling me that nothing stopped them faster than a bloody nose. I never meant a bully that was not a coward, they were brave in the company of friends when they grossly outnumbered the person that they were picking on, but they learned very quickly that picking on me was a big mistake as I would wait till I could catch each one lone and beat the holy snot out of them.

   By the time I became a Christian at the age of fifteen they feared me and never crossed my path. The sad thing is that those who did not learn to fight back were subject to unending harassment. Today a bully can harass someone without even seeing them. It is called Cyber Bullying and some Lawmakers are about to do something about it. Anyone who has used the internet has seen these trolls and learned that the best way to defeat them is by ignoring them, but how does a child or someone who is disabled with mental disorders? Below is a video which I made to show just what a troll was, if you go to that YouTube site you will see a whole host of trolls posting comments.

   

I wonder if those internet providers who do not want to monitor their message boards might fear that Lawmakers will hold them responcible for the Cyber Bullying. This next video will bring tears to your eyes.

Prosecutors characterize the case as the nation's first cyber-bullying case, and the results from it could set legal precedents regarding online harassment.

Drew has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing computers without authorization.
Should the adults involved in deceiving Megan, Lori and Curt Drew, be held accountable for their actions?
DREW faces up to 15 YEARS in prison on charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.
Evidence shows that Drew opened the MySpace account and “fully intended to hurt and prey on Megan's psyche” according to U.S. attorney Thomas O'Brien.

A federal indictment accuses Lori Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Missouri, of using a MySpace account to pose as a 16-year-old boy and feign romantic interest in the girl.

The Drews have been besieged with negative publicity, and Meier's death prompted her hometown of Dardenne Prairie to adopt a law engaging in Internet harassment a misdemeanor. In a bizzare twist the law's first use could be to prevent possible harassment against the Drews!
Megan Meier died believing that somewhere in this world lived a boy named Josh Evans who hated her. The final message Megan Meier saw on her MySpace account: “Everybody in O'Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.”
On Oct. 16, 2006, Ron and Tina Meier discovered Megan had tied a cloth belt around a support beam in her closet and hanged herself. Megan died the following day.

Six weeks after Megan's death her parents were informed that Megan was the victim of a cruel hoax on MySpace. The perpetrators were the parents of Megan's one time friend. The Drews had concocted Josh Evans to get back at Megan for quarreling with their daughter. After Megan's death they even asked Megan's parents if they could store their foosball table in Megan's parent's garage. Upon learning the details of what had happened to their daughter and who was behind it Megan's father destroyed the, “alleged” hoaxers Curt and Lori Drew's, foosball table.
Because Ms. Drew had taken Megan on family vacations, she knew the girl had been prescribed antidepression medication, Ms. Meier said. She also knew that Megan had a MySpace page.

Ms. Drew had told a girl across the street about the hoax, said the girl's mother, who requested anonymity to protect her daughter, a minor.

“Lori laughed about it,” the mother said, adding that Ms. Drew and Ms. Drew's daughter “said they were going to mess with Megan.”
Over the last year the Drew's have had threatening phone calls, a brick through the window,a lwan job and painball attacks.
This Wednesday officials in Megan Meier's home town vote on whether to make online harassment a local crime. The proposed ordinance would make online harassment a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Or, the telecommunications harassment law. Amended in 2005, the law prohibits people from anonymously using the Internet with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.

Drew pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress, in federal Court in June 2008.
She is free on $20,000 bond.

Experts have said the case could break new ground in Internet law. The statute used to indict Drew usually applies to Internet hackers who illegally access accounts to get information.

Sept.'08
A federal judge tentatively rejected two motions on Thursday to dismiss charges against a woman in a MySpace hoax that allegedly led to a 13-year-old girl's suicide.

 

14 Comments so far ↓

  1. Anonymous says:

    One is generally held responsible for one's acts and if an adult in charge of a minor, you are also held responsible for the acts you make on behalf of that minor as well. The matter is about degree of culpability reaching the level required for legal action. That mother who hounded an opponent of her daughter to the point of suicide … is a clear manslaughter. On the other hand, sticks and stones will break my bones. Otherwise you have to leave the Internet to government officials on official business only … as it was originally intended … because free speech cannot be allowed if under constant threat of government snooping or lawsuit by counterparties who feel oppressed (Danish cartoons). Obvious stuff. Of course I don't support egregious bullying face to face or otherwise, anymore than you do.
    Shalom

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are dangers, yes.

    The most famous case of cyber bullying involves several people, including an adult, who constructed a fake internet persona in order to first romance a young girl they all knew was taking antidepressant medication, and then have the “boy” turn on her and tell her she should be dead, she should kill herself. She did indeed kill herself immediately after receiving that message.
    This is not the same thing as Chucky. I understand why you worry about laws intended to prevent what happened to that girl, because Chucky was a free speech persona of yours which could be illegal if some of these proposed laws passed and we all had to identify ourselves using our real names. I am also concerned about freedom of speech and privacy. This is about people like the mother who helped orchestrate that girl's suicide, it is about the people who have a hack that remotely activates young people's webcams and who take footage of them dressing and threaten to post it on the internet if they do not do something, usually something sexual. Basically, blackmail in that latter case, and that is a crime already, but some laws do not recognize online blackmail. Many people do not know that it is even possible to activate a webcam remotely without the owner knowing, and most new computers come with webcams now, some not even very easy to see. They are increasingly used by cyber bullies, both adults and yes, children.
    I think the first step would be to recognize that behavior which is illegal offline should also be illegal online, if it is exactly the same. If it's illegal to take nude pictures of children without them knowing, and threaten to publish them, it seems reasonable to me that it should be illegal to use their own computer webcams without knowledge or consent to do the same thing and publish them much more widely than was ever possible before. If it is illegal to manipulate a mentally ill person into suicide (and I am not sure if it is here), using a computer to do it should not be treated differently.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The real victim may not be the bully

    It is a dangerous path of censorship that once started is hard to eliminate. When government can get away with cyber censorship by declaring all opposing ideas to be cyber bullying the path is to a frightening totalitarian state with modern technology making Orwell's 1984 look mild.
    We must preserve people's right to express themselves. The US Constitution, Canadian and UK equivalents, allow us to be free to criticise anyone or anyone's belief. They have a right to criticise ours in return.
    The Constitution does not protect you from criticism and does not legislate to prevent you from feeling insulted.
    I also do not like bullies. I think kids have a right to retaliate with a fist against physical abuse and retaliate by words if bullied by words.
    In America, there is widespread physical abuse (beatings), ostracisation, name calling, and teacher favouritism to bullies. The victim is usually a non-Believer, a non-Christian (Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic, or Atheist. The victim is often a frail boy who is not a skilled fighter, or any girl picked on by gangs of boys.
    As a non-Theistic Humanist, I have read American reports from the FFRF, AHA, American Atheist News, ACLU reports and legal actions. Children of Atheist parents are usually also Atheists. When they are “outed” by Christian Bullies, there have been beatings, public humiliation by bullies and even teachers and principals. Jewsish children in the south have been punished for wearing the Star of David “because it is a gang symbol.) Some have been dropped from choirs for refusing to sing religious songs. Three children in an Alabama family (boy, girl, and smaller boy) whose father protested his son being ordered to write an essay on “Why Jesus loves Me?” He was beaten several time. Swastikas were drawn on his locker. The younger boy was similarly harassed by majority Christian bullies. The girl (known by the teacher to be an Atheist) was ordered by a Christian Teacher (in public school) to stand for hours in the hallway while the class had a Birthday Party for Jesus.
    Much of this fails to get much notice in the main pro-Christian media. Atheists are now estimated to be about 10% with Agnostics as much as 16%. My friends over there tell me that they must be “in the closet” and advise their children to not discuss religion with anyone…to avoid anti-Atheist persecution. Most doctors who are also closet Atheists also teach their kids to hide their unbelief for their own physical safety and harassment.
    Bullies are cowards. They only harass other kids (minorities of all types) when the bullies are in the majority or intimidate the majority.
    I drifted off topic but now one can see the dangers of censorship and cyber-censorship. The problem is who decides what is allowed and what is banned. I would suspect that Christian bullies harassing a non-believer child, a cultural minority child, a Hindu/Buddhist/Muslim/Native American Pagan, Wiccan, or Jehovah's Witness would either not be disciplined or given a slap on the wrist. I worry that the unbeliever child who mocks your God would be more severely and unfairly punished as in the Alabama and Mississippi ACLU cases.
    Amergin

  4. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately there are bullies everywhere, not just in the US South ;-( I was taught, do not discuss religion, sex or politics in mixed company. That has been eroded everywhere by the Internet. And I am not a child anymore. Still, we must adjust what is good policy, to work with new technology, so that wise behavior might continue.
    Shalom

  5. Anonymous says:

    Existing laws could be expanded.

    We have a number of existing laws which govern telephone communication, slander, fax machine abuses, threatening snail mail letters, etc. We have laws in the US which allow people to sue for harrassment or emotional harm done to them. The problem is that the way many of those laws are worded, they refer to specific kinds of equipment, such as a phone, rather than to a more general term such as communication devices, which could encompass everything from your computer, to a digital camera to someone standing on a street corner with a bullhorn. If we were to update existing communication laws to include computers and other consumer devices which originated after the laws were written I think we would have a pretty good foundation to work from. Courts just gradually need to formally recognize and rule that the same crimes committed online as offline should be handled in the same manner. Peeping Tom is Peeping Tom whether someone is in a tree with a camera, or has installed a program on the person's computer which turns on their webcam and records them changing clothing. Use of such pictures to blackmail is blackmail, whether the person threatens to share instant photos with college classmates, or post them to MySpace. Existing laws which cover offline emotional bullying and harrassment could simply be applied to to online bullying which is functionally similar. Courts are already moving in this direction, with several cases ongoing that are expected to eventually establish that email must abide by the same regulations which protect consumers from snail mail misleading advertisements like Publisher's Clearinghouse's old “You have already won!” deal which scammed some elderly into subscribing to magazines in the belief that they had to do that in order to claim a million dollar prize which was, they thought, guaranteed.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is awful, how could anyone knowingly try to push someone else over the edge? I know that a lot of people don't like regulations or getting the government involved, but this free for all attitude of the internet has to stop. Look we don't have any problems with trolls or lurkers at the CC which is because I believe it's not allowed. What is wrong with the corporations that provide the internet services doing the same thing?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I missed that obvious reality.

    Human behaviour is not something that can ever be 100% free.

    Behaviour that actually triggers harm to another person has to be illegal.

    We are free to shoot guns. We are legitimately not allowed to shoot people.

    We are free to acquire desired objects. We are not free to steal property of others.

    We have free speech. But we cannot under current law advocate overthrow of the government.

    We are not free to lie about a person to damage their reputation. Perhaps an exception is criticism of political leaders. Banning us from harshly criticism Bush (which I did a lot), Obama, Gordon Brown, Sarkozy, Merkel, or President Hu takes us down a dangerous road.

    We are not free to manipulate another person with suggestions leading them to commit crime.

    In the internet, we should have the same rules as we have on radio, TV, telephones, or speeches on a soap box. We should not deny horrors like the many great holocausts because it can be used by evil delusional people to justify persecution or discrimination.

    E-mail or Internet Forums that allow posts that are obviously aimed at doing personal harm to a reader. The messages to the depressed girl are an example. If someone had done this by phone calls to the girl it would not be any different. Web sites by right wing wackos giving details on how to make explosive devices or urban guerrilla tactics have a high risk of promoting killings or civil unrest.

    I hope that my sometimes acerbic posts to not lead anyone to harm themselves or others. I will consider that in future when I compose posts. The problem is often that I think WHILE I am typing in the message box. I have posted some comments I would like to take back but cannot on some forums. We should all use the Preview Message box.

    The big problem is who decides what is dangerous and harmful.

    Amergin

  8. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately such minor details should already be manageable by a proper judiciary. We shouldn't have to have a specific law against left-handed Lithuanian-American sailors stealing. It is part of America's disfunction that we want to replace judiciary with specific legislation (which is endless).
    Shalom

  9. Anonymous says:

    I've heard of cyber bullying but I never thought it could be so dangerous. Is it the bully's fault or the parent's fault for allowing their children to be exposed to such things knowing they don't have the necessary maturity to handle it?
    _________________
    Mary-Anne Davis, part of Traduceri autorizate team.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Mary-Anne, I know that this is off the subject but I had to ask, what is Traduceri autorizate? I looked at the site but I only speak English and it all came up another language.

  11. Anonymous says:
    Anyone who has been on the internet has seen this type of bullying. These people aren't interested in a honest dialog, what they want is to shut down any dialog. They are trying to do it right now over health care and all over money! They don't care how many people suffer so long as their friends in those rich insurance companies can continue to steal from the public. In my opinion that makes them traitors to America!
  12. Anonymous says:

    This is about people like the mother who helped orchestrate that girl's suicide, it is about the people who have a hack that remotely activates young people's webcams and who take footage of them dressing and threaten to post it on the internet if they do not do something, usually something sexual. Basically, blackmail in that latter 70-443 exam case, and that is a crime already, but some laws do not recognize online blackmail. Many people do not know that it is even possible to activate a webcam remotely without the owner knowing, and most new computers come with webcams 642-066 exam now, some not even very easy to see. They are increasingly used by cyber bullies, both adults and yes, children. I think the first step would be to recognize that behavior which is illegal offline should also be illegal online, if it is exactly the same. If it's illegal to take nude pictures of children without them knowing, and threaten to publish them, it 642-892 exam seems reasonable to me that it should be illegal to use their own computer webcams without knowledge or consent to do the same thing and publish them much more widely than was ever possible before.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Bullying has been around forever but cyberbullying is different because it lets a bully remain anonymous. It is easier to bully in cyberspace than it is to bully face to face. With cyberbullying a bully can pick on people with much less risk of being caught.
    There are many things that can be done to combat cyberbullying.
    The most important thing a victim of cyberbullying can do is not respond to the bully. Do not play in to the bully's games. Do not answer emails, do not respond to posts, do not engage in a chat room exchange, and do not copy what the bully is doing.
    ___________
    omidiu, part of the Traduceri legalizate team.
    Traduceri autorizate

  14. Anonymous says:

    Excellent blog post, I look forward to reading more.
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