What can I do as a parent to help our kids

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, offers suggestions to parents of middle schoolers for how they can prevent bullying
Parenting Advice | What parents of middle schoolers can do to help prevent bullying
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What can I do as a parent to help our kids

I think that as a parent of a middle school student, it is very scary. You know, you're not sure of which group your child, they go from elementary where they're innocent and happy, they're bringing home pages that they've colored to all of a sudden middle school and they're changing. And I think one thing is to not panic. I think the other thing is as a parent, we have to lead by example. Our kids have to lead by example. They have to know that we're not sitting there talking about a friend as they walk away, making fun of people in public places. When they see these things happening, it's nothing to them. So when we tell them, stop, that's not appropriate, they see that, well mom makes fun. Dad makes sarcastic comments all of the time. What's the big deal? So one thing as a parent is children have to lead by example. The other thing is try to get your child involved in something. We want them in some sort of activity, because once they're connected whether it is they like playing the piano or they like horseback riding or they like soccer, whatever it may be, we know that at least if they have some core stability that they enjoy being a part of that they are much less likely to get involved in other situations. If you find that your child is starting to change, and they're not liking the same things, or they're with a group of kids that you're not particularly happy about, it is one thing to take those small steps. But you cannot go into the school and say, you don't talk to that child, and you don't talk to my child. It's really the small things of trying to guide them into the right places and leading by example. And if you really see your child struggling, again absolutely 100% contact the school counselor. Make sure that if you need to seek outside counseling, it is very important, because sometimes children are changing and they don't even understand why they're changing. And when we as parents talk to them about it, it feels like we're always on their back. So sometimes we do need that outside help.

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, offers suggestions to parents of middle schoolers for how they can prevent bullying


Expert Bio

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Tina Meier

Executive Director

Tina Meier is an internationally recognized expert on bullying, cyberbullying, internet safety, conflict resolution, the roles of parents and educators, sexting, and suicide awareness and prevention.

On October 16, 2006, Tina Meier’s life took a devastating turn when her 13 year old daughter, Megan Taylor Meier, took her own life. All attempts were made to save Megan, but unfortunately Megan passed away on October 17, 2006, just weeks from her 14th birthday.

Approximately 5 weeks prior to her passing, a 16 year old boy by the name of Josh Evans, contacted Megan through her MySpace account and they began a friendship. Tina Meier, allowed Megan to have a MySpace account with many restrictions and under her watchful eye.  Unfortunately, on that fateful day of October 16, 2006, Josh Evans and Megan began to have an argument over MySpace.  A few others joined in and horrible and hurtful messages and bulletins went out publicly to hundreds of kids. The last words that were said to Megan from Josh were, “The world would be a better place without you” and “Have a shi**y rest of your life.”

Six weeks after Megan’s suicide, Tina Meier was informed that Josh Evans never existed. In fact, he was the fictitious creation of Lori Drew, an adult neighbor that lived down the street, her 13-year-old daughter Sarah, which was Megan’s former friend, and an 18-year-old employee that worked out of Lori Drew’s home.

In December of 2007, Tina Meier, founded the 501 (c)(3) non-profit Megan Meier Foundation.  The Foundation’s mission is to “create awareness, education and promote positive change to children, parents and educators in response to the ongoing bullying and cyberbullying in our children’s daily environment.” Tina’s hope is to make a difference through spreading Megan’s story, create awarness regarding internet safety, and educate others on the consequences of bullying and cyberbullying. She hopes to help one child at a time cope with these negative social issues. Ultimately, her goal is to empower children to be the change and continue the Foundation’s mission.

At the time of this tragedy, the State of Missouri did not have laws in place to prosecute someone using electronic communications to cyberbully another person. Tina worked closely with Senator Scott Rupp and Governor Matt Blunt’s Internet Task Force for the State of Missouri to help pass Senate Bill 818, which went into law on August 28, 2008. This law amended the harassment and stalking laws to include electronic communication.

Each year, Tina travels throughout the country as a keynote speaker addressing the issue of bullying and cyberbullying in today’s world to students, educators, administrators, parents, youth rallies, counselors, law enforcement, and other professionals. Through Tina’s inspirational and educational message, the audience is empowered to make a difference not only for themselves, but others also.

Tina has continued to spread the Foundation’s message and Megan’s story through national and international media appearances such as network television stations, radio, news shows, magazines and syndicated talk shows. She also accepted a Presidential invitation to attend the 2011 White House Anti-Bullying Conference, presented at the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools National Conference in Washington, DC, and served as a consultant during the production of the ABC Family movie, Cyberbully.

Tina Meier resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with her daughter Allison. 

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