Full Frame Panel: Cyberbullying 101

Full Frame

Dr. Jaana Junvonen

For this week’s panel, we are joined by two women who have witnessed the effects of bullying online in two very different ways. Dr. Jaana Juvonen is a professor at UCLA who specializes in developmental psychology. Dr. Juvonen has extensively studied relationships amongst young bullies and their victims, and seeks to understand how peer cruelty affects both the perpetrators and their victims. She has co-authored many books on bullying, including her most recent study, Peer Harassment in School: The Plight of the Vulnerable and Victimized.

Tina Meier

Tina Meier

Tina Meier is a mother from Missouri. In 2006, her eldest daughter, Megan, was just weeks away from turning 14 when she took her own life after being relentlessly bullied online. In a shocking revelation several weeks after Megan’s death, the Meiers discovered that it was not another teen that was bullying Megan; it was a classmate’s mother, disguised by the internet as a teen boy. Although Meier considered herself highly aware of her daughter’s online activity, after Megan’s tragic suicide, she realized that her community needed to become more educated about the risks of abuse in the cyber-sphere.

Full Frame Panel - Cyberbullying 101

Full Frame Panel - Cyberbullying 101

For this week’s panel, we are joined by two women who have witnessed the effects of bullying online in two very different ways.

Juvonen’s studies have found that not only are young internet users more likely to share private information with their peers online, but they are also highly unlikely to tell their parents if any unfriendly transgressions have occurred for fear of getting their internet privileges revoked.

“When [bystanders] don’t do anything, when they just stand there, or when they spread the rumor online, they are actually re-enforcing bullying. That’s when the bully feels so very mighty and powerful. And the victim feels so little and powerless,” said Juvonen. “What we have to empower is the bystanders to act, because they really can make a big difference.”

After experiencing these unfortunate realities firsthand, Meier created the Megan Meier Foundation in order to educate students and their parents about the dangers of cyberbullying.

In 2007 alone, almost 1/3 of teen internet users said they experienced some form of cyber harassment, with aggressions ranging from cruel text messages to nasty online rumors and private pictures being made public. Both panelists agree that in order to bring this percentage down, educators and policy makers must make an effort to increase awareness of cyberbullying’s effects.

“I helped get the law in the state of Missouri, Senate bill 818 back in August of 2008. And to date, there has not been a case that’s been prosecuted,” said Meier. “So, while I think that laws are important to be able to make sure that we all have limits, we’ve realized that laws are not going to…scare these children”

Dr. Juvonen and Tina Meier sit down with Mike to discuss how our internet focused society can make the web a safer place for young users.

Follow the Megan Meier Foundation on Twitter: @MeganMeierFnDn