Precedent Setting Cyberbullying Indictment for Missouri Mom

joan-crawford.jpg“The world would be a better place without you.”

Just think about that phrase for awhile. Let it sink in. Feel the pain.

I don’t care if it was directed to a cockroach, it still merits introspection as to why it would be uttered at all, by any human being…even though the explanation was an attempt to ‘break up’ a non-existent relationship in a virtual hoax gone awry.

Yesterday I posted about ‘mini-me’s and wannabes’ addressing the ‘parent factor’ in this media/marketing conundrum of parent purchasing power and behavioral precedents…

Today, we have more evidence of moms misbehaving on MySpace, with the federal grand jury indictment of the 49-year old poseur paramour who set up, encouraged, and then jilted a 13-year old girl, by pretending to be a 16-year old romantic interest.

In actuality, she was just a meddling mom anxious to see what a ‘former friend’ was saying about her daughter…And yet? There’s a 13-year old dead due to the cruelty. Go figure.

As media keeps fear-mongering internet safety holes with ‘stranger danger’ and KIDS being ‘a problem’ it might behoove us all to look at cyberbullying in surround sound and start sourcing the motivations, vendettas and consequences of ALL ages. That’s right. Parents, teachers, and educators of all ages are fair game for scrutiny…

After all, one might be inclined to chalk up this social media story as an aberration bordering on surreal, but let me tell you, I KNOW moms like that.

We actually had a similar case in our own middle school environs…

Some are ‘helicopter parents,’ hovering over and living through the lens of their children, some are schoolyard bullies grown up, and some are simply immature, reactive misfits, but they DO exist. Make no mistake about it.

I’ve seen them in our stints in schools, in coffee klatches on neighborhood corners, and even experienced the ancillary discomfort of hearing vile venom of gossipy rumors flying by a time or two…

angel_halo_pillowcase_1.jpgSome appear hellbent on knowing every detail of their child’s social squabbles, and acting upon them, covertly or overtly, taking out anyone in the blast zone with ‘guilt by association.’

Others are cluelessly in denial and wouldn’t cop to their own child’s faults if the Pope himself were serving notice on their antics.

I’ve posted extensively about cyberbullying before and the fabulous ConnectSafely.org and NetFamilyNews and Andy Carvin’s blog and Stop Cyberbullying site, but to freshen the precedent-setting verdict that took place today, let’s back up a bit and address:

What IS cyberbullying?

How often does this happen?

And what can we do about it?

Will harassment and humiliation become an enforceable felony?

Here’s CBS News technology analyst Larry Magid’s podcast on the implications of this historic indictment and what it means in terms of precedent, for this is the first known case of an online ‘terms of service’ contract being used to file a criminal complaint…backed by federal law.

Those that click through ‘terms of service’ legalese as gobbledygook should take heed that there are serious consequences and potential jail time for fraudulently accessing private databases, deliberate bullying and electronic harassment, as well as conspiracy charges being levied against this mom, Lori Drew.

Word has it she could serve up to twenty years in prison if convicted on all four counts. Yowza.

My guess is kids (and parents) will think twice about their anonymous flamethrowing and bullying if Ms. Drew becomes the precedent-setting scapegoat du jour. (meaning, they throw the book at her, but don’t close the loopholes in prosecuting all the OTHER morally bankrupt beings doing similar misguided deeds)

I’m not going to get into the judgmental thumbs up/thumbs down on how the specifics of the felony laws should go…it’s a tragic circumstance between the families themselves.

I also have some qualms about ‘spoof/set-ups’ and retribution on the ethics front as a form of ultimate cyberbullying. (e.g. accusation of an innocent by a techno-savvy spoofer)

On the cyberbullying and imposter note, I WILL offer a quick tip on ‘reputation management’ that I give to parents EVERY time I deal with hurtsome entire ‘spoof sites’ and people pretending to be a child that they’re not…

Buy your child’s domain name…

…early on. Sit on it until they’re ready to have an internet presence of their own; for less than ten bucks a year you’ve got the peace of mind knowing that any imposter profile put up by a meanie can be trumped by the SEO wildcard of their real name showing up FIRST and foremost when ‘Googled’…

When s/he is ready to enter college or the workforce, activate it with the real content by the real person, followed by social media blogs and other resources, and it should render any lingering ‘poseur pages’ moot.

If your name is common, you may have to add the middle name too, but at the very least, you’re bound to find some fascinating genealogy tidbits or long lost cousins! And remember…

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”

~Wayne Dyer

Visual Credit: Joan Crawford Collection, Amazon.com

Related Posts On Shaping Youth

NetFamilyNews Posts Cyberbullying Statistics; ConnectSafely Forum Helpful

Harris Interactive Research: How Cyberbullying is Shaping Youth Savvy

SXSW: Teen Docu-Drama & Digital Doings+New Cyberbullying Study

Adina’s Deck Gives Kids A Clue On Solving Cyberbullying Mysteries

Comments

  1. scapegoat du jour?
    A 49 year old woman should know better than to tell a 13 year old that the world is better off without her?

    If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face why would you say it online? When are people going to figure that out!??!

  2. Yep. Completely agree. In fact, I added a line for clarity after that, because I’m sure someone will write in to point out that ‘technically it was the 19 year old accomplice’ that used that line and not the mom…

    But personally…I hold the 49-year old mom fully, unequivocally responsible.

    And yes, as far as the anonymity of the internet and the damage it causes online vs. saying something to one’s face…one peek into the headline news about the “Juicy Campus” site will jolt you into realization that common sense has given way to those claiming “free speech” rules…ugh.

    Horrid outcomes. http://internetsafetyadvisor.info/journal/2008/2/19/juicycampusvery-disturbing-website.html

    And even more horrid for this young rape victim, to be victimized twice by things said online:
    http://www.abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=4849927&page=1

    sigh…

  3. Another good one to read about the Facebook App, ‘compare to’ which has kids vote up or down on each other…in harmful derision…NetFamily News writes about it here in an article called, “Window on Cyberbullying”

    http://www.netfamilynews.org/2008/02/window-on-cyberbullying.html

    And here’s the Palo Alto kids/local story itself:

    http://voice.paly.net/view_story.php?id=6406

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