Cyber bullying is in the spotlight again after a ninth-grader in the US state of Missouri has been arrested for creating a website that was used to attack another female student at her school, the most recent arrest in a series of arrests under Missouri’s cyber bullying laws.
School district authorities in Troy, Missouri, where she attends the Troy Buchanan Ninth Grade Centre, were alerted to the case after the female victim told the school’s principal, who later referred to the district. The authorities later called the sheriff, according to Wired’s Threat Level.
The website, which has been taken down, included the name of the victim and “cunt.com” in its address, and had a couple of posts on the site which referred to the girl as a “slut” and said that the target “would be better off if she just died”. Photos of the girl were also hosted on the site.
“The website had very troublesome things posted on it by an individual who obviously had a dislike for the other female in the school,” spokesman for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, Lt. Andy Binder, told Wired.
Switched says that investigators were only able to track down the owner of the site after talking to other students after their names appeared on the site.
Binder also said that schools developed a zero-tolerance policy in regards to the increasing problems with cyberbullying after the Lori Drew case, where a mother in Missouri was involved in creating a MySpace account and bullied 13-year-old girl Megan Meier, who committed suicide after the fake account told the world would be better off without her.
“The school sin the area are not willing to take the chance of losing another student,” Binder added.
The case has been handed over to prosecutors in the county’s juvenile court, who will then determine if the girl will be charged with a crime. The school district has, however, disciplined the perpetrator which includes anything from lost privileges all the way up to expulsions; however, the district cannot reveal what she has received because of US federal privacy laws.
In the state of Missouri, it passed a law that criminalised cyber-harassment after the Lori Drew case, as she could not be charged with a crime as both state and federal law did not address this type of harassment. After coming into effect in August 2008, the law has been used to charge:
- A 21-year-old woman who sent harassing text messages to a 16-year-old girl over a jealous dispute involving a boy, and let others send vulgar voicemail messages threatening the girl with rape, among other things.
- Two St. Louis men after sending harassing text messages to their ex-girlfriends.
- A man that protested the development of a proposed resort after sending threatening emails to city hall staff.
- A 28-year-old woman after sending harassing text messages to her ex-husband’s girlfriend.
- A 19-year-old man for sent 17 text messages to his mother’s husband.
- A 17-year-old for sending death threats via SMS to a classmate over a girl.
Incidentally, the school was getting ready for an Anti-Bulling week, which included wearing crazy socks, eating lunch with other people and a door-decorated contest. The event was planned before the incident occurred, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.