Tina Meier, a 42-year-old housewife from O’Fallon, MO in St. Charles County spoke to half of the student body at Ladue Horton Watkins High School on Friday. Because Ladue has 1,400 students at the high school, Meier will return later this week to speak to the other half of the student body. They could not all fit into the performance center at the same time.
Cyber bulling turns to tragedy
In 2006, Meier’s 13-year-old daughter Megan hung herself in her bedroom while her entire family was at home. She was rushed to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, still breathing, but died shortly thereafter.
Meier spoke to the students for the better part of an hour. She made them laugh; she made them weep; she made them ask pointed questions and she had their total attention. Not a stir was heard in the house.
The mission of the Megan Meier Foundation is to bring awareness, education and promote positive change to children, parents and educators in response to the ongoing bullying and cyber bullying that occurs far too often in the lives of children everywhere.
A difficult childhood
Megan had a difficult childhood, struggling with problems of self-esteem; acceptance and had a form of ADD, attention deficit disorder.
In the eighth grade, the parents took Megan out of public school, enrolling her in a private school: “Uniforms, no makeup, no nail polish,” things like that.
By then, Megan’s struggles were almost overwhelming.
The "My Space" mistake
Against, better judgement and battling daily with a teen-ager, mom allowed her daughter to have a “My Space” account. The rules were strict: like no computer in the bedroom; mom had the password and she carefully monitored the account.
Sometime during her 13th year, she met a “hot” guy named Josh Evans on “My Space.” At first, he was adoring and positive in every way.
It turns out cruelly, that Josh was Lori Drew and her teen daughter, living four doors down from the Meier household.
Later, the messages turned negative and mean-spirited. The last message went this way: “No one likes you anymore. No one wants to be your friend, and have a shitty life.”
Obviously, that pushed Megan, who would have turned 14 in a couple of weeks over the edge.
The problems with lack of self esteem
Meier, who won the Humanitarian Award in 2009 and was recognized at the 2011 Verizon Cyber Bulling Conference talked to the students about how Megan used to believe everyone hated her, which only added to her depression. Professional counseling could not turns things around.
Just prior to her death, Megan called her mother “the warden of the prison.”
Tina Meier related the setbacks of her own personal life, losing her father to a seizure; her brother who died after back surgery then the passing of her teen daughter.
She told the students they ought to focus in more on their parents. “They love you and they want the best for you. How many times have you heard, parents--please keep out of my life?”
She believes strongly that parents need to be involved in their teen’s lives.
She told the students to measure their words carefully. “Things are said that can’t be taken back.”
Her crusade is to stop cyber bulling in its tracks everywhere. If she can save another teen’s life, her life’s work will all be worthwhile.