Cyber Bullying

Cyber Bullying
By: CJ Cassidy

A new study says one in three children run up against cyber bullies when they go online.
That's not all.  Another issue is drawing attention to cyber bullies here in Missouri.
St. Charles County prosecutors must now decide whether an Internet prank that resulted in a teenage girl committing suicide warrants criminal charges.
Teens we spoke with say cyber bullying happens more often than you might think.  In fact, one teen, Aaron Denson, says he's run into his share of Internet villians himself.
"It was over my girlfriend.  The guy was threatening to fight me and stuff," he said.
But Denson never called police.
"I wouldn't report it to anyone.  People are always going to threaten people," he said.
Denson's classmates agree, but his computer instructor, Theresa Taylor says instead of getting "keyed up" online, anyone who encounters online bullies should report them to an adult.
"If I went up to you and threatened harm, but what's the difference between doing that on my home computer?  It's just a different means of communicating," she said.
That's what Megan Meier's parents say.  Their 13-year-old daughter committed suicide in St. Charles last year, after receiving cruel messages from a boy on MySpace. Turns out the whole thing was a prank and the messages came from a classmate's mom.
"Not everything wrong should be a crime," said Cape County Prosecutor Morley Swingle.  With stalking and harrassment laws already on the books, cyber bullying laws simply would not work.
"We don't need to police teens saying mean things to each other, otherwise resources would be spread too thin," he explained.
Aaron Denson agrees.  He says if you can't say anything nice, just don't say anything at all.
"I think it's kinda sad people fight over the Internet," Denson said.
Swingle points out you should report online threats and repeated harrassment to the police or at least to school leaders if you're still in school.
He also says the Meier case would play out well in civil court.