If you’ve been following the Megan Mier cyberbullying case, then this is big news. Lori Drew, the mother who impersonated a boy interested in Megan online only to bully her because Lori’s daughter didn’t like her. Eventually, Megan committed suicide due to the harassment.
Mrs. Drew was put on trial and convicted of misdemeanors in the case by a jury. But on July 3rd, when most of the country was not paying attention due to the holiday, the judge in the case overturned the conviction, basically letting Mrs. Drew off the hook. Why am I not surprised.
In an article in Wired Online, John C Abell writes that:
But what if Megan had been taunted in private by a real teen for whom she had some feelings and hoped had for her? Suppose she had been told to her face that the world would be a better place without her, perhaps even to snickering and other body language that would rub salt into the wound? Suppose such an encounter had been witnessed, perpetrated in the schoolyard or lunchroom, escalated for the approval of the crowd who piled on and made the “Carrie“-like humiliation even more palpable?
In neither of these scenarios would a criminal prosecution be viable, it seems to me. Bullying with no physical contact is generally handled by school administrators and parents (when it is at all), not as a criminal matter but in ways that aim to modify the behavior of the tormentor and separate stalker and prey as best as possible.
While I agree in principle with the above argument, at what point do we start to take these bullying incidents more seriously? Just because the past way things were handled was OK, as modern adults I think we should try to enact change to both stop, prevent, and help those who are bullied and are bullies.
What Mrs. Drew did was egregious in my opinion. As an adult she should have known better. I can understand the above argument of children on playgrounds and not prosecuting them. But the argument to treat an adult who does this is not the same.
So nothing has changed for now. There is still no legal precedent to prevent cyberbullying and have it viewed as a crime. While Mrs. Drew may be ostracized by her community and the public, no time will be served and no punishment will appear in the legal books. One day, maybe that will change, but for today, it is a lost case.