John O. Hayward


On October 17, 2006, Megan Meier, a thirteen-year-old girl in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, who had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and depression, committed suicide because of postings on MySpace, an Internet social networking site, saying she was a bad person whom everyone hated and the world would be better off without. As a result, the state revised its harassment and stalking statutes to prohibit using electronic means to knowingly "frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress to another person."' At the time of this writing, twenty-one states have passed similar legislation with others sure to follow. Many of these statutes were enacted as a result of public hysteria over Megan's death and without due consideration to the threat they pose to freedom of speech. They are intended to combat what has become popularly known as "cyber bullying."' This article examines cyber bullying, the laws it has spawned, how they chill student free speech, their constitutionality, and presents a Model Anti-Cyber Bullying Statute.