Franklin James Cook

Verdict Shows Parents, Internet Should Both Protect Kids

In Media, Policy, Prevention on November 27, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Lori Drew

Lori Drew

ORIGINAL REPORT — The jury in the Lori Drew case involving the death of Megan Meier did not convict Drew of the “felony counts of accessing computers without authorization to inflict emotional harm” but rather found her “guilty of three misdemeanor offenses of accessing computers without authorization.”

Each count is punishable by up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Drew could have gotten 20 years if convicted of the four original charges … [U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien, chief federal prosecutor in Los Angeles] pronounced the case the nation’s first cyberbullying trial, [saying] the jury’s decision sent a worthy message: “If you have children who are on the Internet and you are not watching what they are doing, you better be.”

A follow-up post on the Los Angeles Times technology blog says, furthermore, that “the jury is still out on whether social networks are doing enough to protect consumers on their sites, say technology and safety experts.”

Social networks are a vulnerable place for children, with cyber-bullying becoming increasingly prevalent, technology consultant Rob Enderle said. One-third of U.S. teenagers have been victims of it, according to a Pew Internet Project study released last year. About 39% of social network users reported being bullied in some way, compared with 22% of teens who did not use social networks.

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