Cyberspace takes a turn for the worse - Jaya Franklin

Internet bullying.

You have to admit, the term, itself, sounds a little weird.

I mean, how can you allow someone to bully you through your computer? I mean, you can walk away from it, and you can turn it off.

But, for some, it isn't that easy. People are being bullied through text messaging and online chatting.

I can understand some people, who have problems with bullies in school, but through technology? To me, this just doesn't make any sense. After I researched Internet bullying -- on the Internet, no less -- I realized that most of the victims are young children and teenagers.

Apparently, Megan Meier, a 13-year-old, from the St. Louis suburbs, didn't think it was that simple. Reports say she committed suicide after receiving mean messages from a make-believe guy on myspace.com.

Some reports say that Megan's next-door neighbor's mother, and one of her employees, created the myspace account to harass the teen, and find out what Megan was saying about the woman's daughter.

Although there are conflicting news reports floating around, it is tragic and unfortunate that Megan committed suicide. She was so young, and just like any other teen, had so much ahead of her, and so much to look forward to.

Megan's parents believe their next door neighbor is responsible for their daughter's death.

It amazes me that a teenage feud could escalate into something so tragic. I've never met anyone who has been bullied online, but no one should allow these things to get out of control. We're all familiar with kids being kids, but there is a time when the whole thing needs to be nipped in the bud.

When it comes to younger kids, I think their Internet usage should be closely monitored by their parents. There are all types of crazy people online, and most of them don't have your child's best interest at heart.

I believe it's up to parents to take control of these things. There is a misconception that if kids are online, they're doing something educational. However, this often isn't the case.

There have been reports of children planning -- on the Internet -- to shoot up their schools to get revenge over perceived threats, slights or feelings of persecution.

The worse part about this is that children are doing all of these things in the privacy of their bedrooms, with their parents only a few footsteps away.

Jaya Franklin covers government for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at jfranklin@henryherald.com.