SOL 3/8 Reflection on Cyberbullying Presentation

  8 of 31 for the Slice of Life Challenge from Two Writing Teachers
Last night I had the opportunity to hear Tina Meier speak about her daughter Megan and the affect that cyberbullying has had on their family.  Megan had struggled most of her life with self esteem issues and dealing with her peers.  She never felt good enough about herself, and admitted to her mother in 3rd grade that she wanted to kill herself.  Red flags went up for this family and her mother spoke about how they went to counseling and spoke with the school.  Megan continued to struggle with peer pressure and hurtful comments.  She tried buying friends with candy and gifts, and getting attached to crowds that weren't good for her.  Ultimately, Megan was cyberbullied by an adult neighbor who created a fake MySpace account to befriend and then harrass her as a joke.  This person was the mother of one of her friends.  She posed as a boy who liked Megan, who began an online friendship/ relationship. Later the bullying began and "he" then began to say horrible things.  When he told her he was through with their online "relationship," Megan hung herself in her closet after a fight with her mom over allowing too much information she gave over the website.  As a mother, I can't imagine the horror and pain that Tina went through.  It is heartbreaking to think about.

Afterwards my kids and I really had some great conversation about what they should do as far as digital citizenship.  I feel like I've been pretty careful with what my kids do online.  I don't want to dissuade them from being online, but I'm protective as a mom too. I've seen so many bad things said on Facebook and other spots and want my kids to know that it is never OK to treat people unfairly in person or online.  Cyberbullying seems so easy for some, I think, because the victim is not standing there, so the effects aren't visible.  Only that victim knows the pain.  I wrote recently about the power of words, and was reminded last night of that.  Tina had some very interesting slides with images that captured that power.  My 4rd grader remarked about some that she saw, such as one of a little boy being choked by a hand made of horrible words.  That hit home for her.
Tina's message was about speaking out when you see injustice.  Speak out when you know someone is harming himself and is depressed.  Speak out when someone mentions suicide, because if they bring it up they are more likely to go through with it to end that pain.

I'm glad I decided to go and I'm glad that my kids heard the message too.  I really wish she could have spoken to our middle school student body as well as the high school, because it could have really benefited them to hear this important message.

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