What to do if your kid is bullied online

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, offers advice to parents whose children are being bullied online
Bullying Advice for Parents | What to do if your child is being bullied online
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What to do if your kid is bullied online

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I think as a parent when you find out that your child is being bullied or cyber bullied, one thing is to realize that because a child doesn't like the clothes is wearing does not mean it's bullying. What bullying and cyberbullying are is it has be repeated. They need to be intentional. It does not mean that when they say something it's not hurtful. Certainly that hurts your child's feelings, and it hurts your feelings also as a parent. But make sure that you use the term properly when they're being bullied or cyberbullied it is something that is repeated. It is something that is concerning. Make sure when you find out, make sure if it's something that's happening at school, make sure you document everything. Make sure that you do go and contact the school. Don't just go to a teacher. Make sure that the school is aware of it. And the teachers may be very helpful, but if they don't report it, then the school is not on top of all of that. Make sure that you let them know. Again, kids are very fearful of letting us as parents know, because they're afraid if they go to the school, the school is going to call everybody in and now it's going to be a huge backlash. Now they kids are going to make more fun of them. So we can start small with supporting them, contacting the school to see what's going on, see if they can monitor it. I think if you really start seeing your child declining, and these typically happen very quickly, but for a parent many times we don't see it because we're so close to it. If their grades start dropping, if they don't want to do that extracurricular activity, if they're not hanging out with the same friends, if they're isolating themselves in the room, they don't want to come out for dinner, they don't want to get outline, please make sure you stop and talk to them. And if they are not open and really talking to you and you are concerned, absolutely seek professional advice. Sometimes kids fear that parents, they worry about the parents. They worry about what they're going to do, or maybe they're going through a stressful time. So kids are very smart. And they know, well, listen, mom and dad are upset. Or maybe they're going through a divorce. So I'm not going to tell them. It's going to put more stress on them. So sometimes they need a place that is an independent third party that they can just tell them how they feel so they don't have that fear of hurting the parents' feelings. When we talk about professional help, many times in your community maybe you don't have the professionals, and what can you do? When you have the ability, we want you to seek a professional counselor such a psychiatrist or psychologist that deals with adolescents and specializes in this. If you don't have the funds, or they're not in your community, then make sure you contact that school counselor. Many times your community, even small, will have help at the community center and resources . We want you to be able to go online. there are so many phenomenal resources online that will give you steps and resources and hotlines. So we want o make sure you don't just stop at the door and go, well I don't have the funds or the money and I can't do it. There are other places. And if one door closes and you don't get the answer that you want, you are your child's best advocate. Make sure that you push through that door and you make another call. You look online again. You contact another counselor. Because in the end, there are people who truly do care and who do want to help you. And sometimes it can be those doors that you open that truly make a change in your child's life.

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, offers advice to parents whose children are being bullied online

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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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