What you don't know about your kids' experience of bullying

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, explains what parents might not understand about their children's experiences of bullying
Parenting Advice | What you don't know about your kids' experiences of bullying
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What you don't know about your kids' experience of bullying

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I think that many times parents are surprised really in two different ways. One way a parent is surprised is when they find out their children has taken part in it. Many times we want to say, well not my child. There's way. They don't do that. They're nice. They hang out with these kids. They would never do that. I've taught them better. And I think sometimes parents are surprised by it. But at the end of the day, our child is imperfect. They're not perfect. They do make mistakes. And from that, I think it's a place to stop, take a deep breath, and realize that from that mistake they can learn. I think that many times many parents are surprised their child is maybe getting in trouble but maybe they are the ones that stood up. Maybe they are the ones that took a stand in a situation. And what happens is sometimes in schools we will hear about students who stood up, but they will get in trouble because it's mind your own business, keep your hands to yourself, don't worry about other people if it has nothing to do with you. And when parents find out about these children sometimes they're surprised and they're happy. And then sometimes they're also, listen, I appreciate you doing it, but you've got to follow what the school says. Mind your own business. They'll ask for help. And so I think in both ways parents can be surprised. But I think at the end of the day parents have to realize that we were not given a golden rule book as a parent. We are going to make mistakes as parents. But many times if we stop and take a deep breath and realize it's not the end of the world and take small opportune times to work with our children we can get through those much easier than the panicking and the yelling and the screaming and the grounding.

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, explains what parents might not understand about their children's experiences of bullying

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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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