Highland fights back against cyber bullying
Thu, 21 Mar 2013 05:04:55 GMT —
Tina Meier has criss-crossed the nation telling the story of how repeated cyber bullying led her daughter to commit suicide .
On Wednesday night, the gym at Highland High School was full as parents and students sat down for a sobering discussion on the reality of bullying in the cyber age.
Tina Meier has taken her daughter Megan's story and turned it into a mission to educate schools, parents and students about the power of social media and how much damage it can do when it is misused.
Highland Principal Alan Koch says that bullying has a far reaching affect.
"We are not just concerned with what is going on in school," Koch said. "When the students are at home and the messages that are received or given, these come into our school building the next day and it affects the education process."
Tina says that unlike in days past, today's bullies rarely leave any physical scars on their victims.
"When we physically get hit we can see blood, we can see bruises, we can see that physical part. But when somebody is being bullied relentlessly or being cyber-bullied, we don't see the internal, emotional scars," she said.
During her presentation Tina cites some staggering statistics.
"Brain scans of soldiers that have been in combat, who have post traumatic stress syndrome show similarities in brain scans of children who have been repeatedly bullied over a period of time," she said.
Meier says that since she started telling her daughter's story, she has seen kids gain a better understanding of how dangerous cyber bullying can be.
"Once students are empowered and understand that the things they text and upload, that those truly can be detrimental to another person, you do see some of them changing a little bit. Thinking about what they're saying. Thinking about how they're interacting with others," she said.
Tina's Meier is bravely taking her story and using it to educate, inspire and bring hope to victims of cyber bullying and their families.
"What we want kids and their parents to know is that through talking, through counseling and through investigating and finding out what's going on, things can get better in time. And not every single child attempts to hurt themselves or goes through severe cases. But we want to make sure that they're there, they understand it and we can get them the help and resources they need," she explained.
Meier says she never thought she would be the person to stand up and speak in front of large crowds. But the heartbreak of her daughter's death and the need to raise the red flag on cyber bullying continue to drive this St. Charles, Missouri mother onward.
Tina Meier says that kids today view phone and computer use as a right and not a privilege.
So she encourages parents to set rules for computer and phone use early in their child's lives so that both parents and kids understand the boundaries for use and why they are there.