Dismissal In MySpace Suicide Case Could Spark Cyberbullying Crackdown
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2009 Jul 06
A federal judge's recent decision to dismiss charges against Lori Drew in the "MySpace suicide" case is already fueling an attempt to enact a new federal cyberbullying law.
"This decision is disappointing, but is a direct example of why we need laws to address new crimes like cyberbullying," Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) said in a statement issued after the case was dismissed. Sanchez recently proposed a law, the "Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act," that would criminalize online harassment.
Drew, an adult Missouri resident, was prosecuted for allegedly violating a federal computer fraud law by helping to hatch a plan to create a fake profile of a boy, "Josh," who sent messages to 13-year-old Megan Meier. The messages, flirtatious at first, eventually turned hurtful. Megan hanged herself after receiving a final message from "Josh" that the world would be a better place without her.
Sanchez's bill would make it a crime to send electronic communications "with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person." The bill would also require that the sender exhibit "severe, repeated, and hostile behavior."
Source: Online Media Daily