How teens experience bullying

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, talks about how high schoolers experience bullying and how it relates to fitting in
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How teens experience bullying

You know, when I speak to middle school students from 6th-7th-8th grade, this bullying really transforms into more of fitting in. They are trying to figure out where their place is within the school. They want to be accepted. And many times that part of being accepted they will take the risks. They will step over that line if they feel that they are going to be in that group that everybody thinks is the cool group to be in. And so many times you will see separation of friends, separation of things that they have always done before. And they are just in this awkward stage where they really try very hard to fit in. Many times because of that, they will do things that are seen as quite mean, very nasty. It is for girls many times it's the rumors. It is the talking behind their back. It is the isolation. It usually seems to be over boys, rumors, and jealousy. Those are the three main things that girls in middle school will completely stomp on another girl. And it's if the girl is talked to by a boy that she thinks is cute, well, you're my friend. How dare you do that. And it starts that whole entire circle of viciousness. Boys, many times, it is the antagonizing. They may punch the other kid in the arm. They may think it's funny to make fun of the kid who's a little bit smaller, who's a little bit socially awkward. Boys many times it's just that constant antagonizing, that threatening, tripping, and again, we realize that bullying is a power imbalance. So if that boy or girl feels that they have more power over the other person, they are going to use that to their advantage if they feel that they are being threatened. And truly at the end of the day it is truly kids just trying to fit in and be accepted. They are just trying to fight up that ladder. And it can be really disrupting.

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, talks about how high schoolers experience bullying and how it relates to fitting in


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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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