Cyberbullying Court Cases

Cyberbullying Court Cases
Coming up next: Federal Cyberbullying Laws

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  • 0:03 Cyberbullying
  • 1:33 Megan Meier Case
  • 2:44 Jessica Logan Case
  • 3:25 Tyler Clementi Case
  • 4:10 Amanda Todd Case
  • 5:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

This lesson provides insight int the issue of cyberbullying by reviewing four tragic cyberbullying incidents resulting in court cases. The outcome and aftermath of each case is also discussed.

Cyberbullying

You had a fight with your best friend, Emily, and have not spoken to her in about a month. Other friends are telling you that she's spreading nasty rumors about you at school that are not truthful. One day when you log into your social media account, you notice someone posted unflattering photos of you with subtitles that include words like fat cow, idiot, and dumbest girl in the world. At school the next day, you see Emily huddling with a bunch of girls, and they all laugh as you walk by. You feel betrayed, humiliated, and sad and wonder if you should let an authority figure know about what Emily has done. But, do Emily's actions qualify as cyberbullying?

Bullying is often defined as intimidation used to threaten or hurt someone else, often in a repetitive manner. It can include calling out insults, making threats, excluding someone, and spreading rumors. In contrast, cyberbullying is bullying that takes place online via the web, email, texting, or social media. It often involves the use of electronic devices, such as computers and cellphones, specifically to target victims.

The primary distinction between bullying and cyberbullying is that cyberbullying takes place electronically. Yet, as can be seen in the situation described earlier, it can be just as painful and can greatly impact an individual's life. Unfortunately, the ugly side of cyberbullying often attract media attention when these instances lead to tragic results. Let's review four cyberbullying incidents that led to court cases and their outcomes.

Megan Meier Case

Megan Meier was a normal, pretty 13-year-old girl who was struggling with issues a lot of teenagers struggle with, including her weight. Around the start of the school year in 2006, a boy asked to become Megan's friend on a popular social media site. The two stayed in touch on a regular basis and became fast virtual friends. Although they never met in person, Megan found the positive attention uplifting.

In October of 2006, the boy suddenly announced he no longer wanted to be Megan's friend. Within days, Megan's exchanges with the boy because hurtful and cruel, and, eventually, other students at Megan's school joined in. Just weeks before Megan's 14th birthday, her mom discovered that she had hung herself in her upstairs closet.

After this tragic event, it was determined that the boy was no boy at all, but instead a character created by Megan's female neighbor. A federal prosecutor charged the neighbor with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. A grand jury indicted the neighbor but a judge acquitted her of all charges. Although the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act was introduced shortly after the defendant's acquittal in 2009, it was not enacted into law.

Jessica Logan Case

Jessica Logan was an 18-year-old high school student in Ohio who sent nude pictures of herself to her boyfriend. When the relationship ended, the picture was sent to hundreds of individuals via text messages and social media. Jessica was unable to handle the ridicule and embarrassment and committed suicide by hanging herself.

Jessica's parents filed charges against Jessica's high school and the local police department, claiming neither did their due diligence to stop the picture from circulating in cyberspace. Although of little consolation to Jessica's parents, they were able to settle the suit, and, as a result of their activism, the Jessica Logan Act, which addresses cyberbullying specifically and expanded anti-harassment policies, was signed into law.

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