Acting under a new anti-cyberharassment statute that was passed in late August as a result of the landmark Lori Drew/MySpace cyberbullying case, prosecutors in Missouri have been filing a slew of charges for the crime.
The law passed after 13-year-old Megan Meier hanged herself in Missouri in 2006 following online harassment by 47-year-old Lori Drew through a MySpace account. When Missouri authorities tried to charge Drew with a crime, they could find no law under which to prosecute her, so lawmakers drafted legislation to curb future threats or harassing communication. Under the law, perpetrators can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
And in the three months since the law took effect, Missouri authorities have broguht charges against seven people, including a 21-year-old woman charged for allegedly sending harassing text messages to a 16-year-old girl over a jealous dispute involving a boy and allowing others to use her cellphone to leave vulgar voicemail messages and threats. Additionally, a pair of St. Louis men were charged with sending harassing text messages to their ex-girlfriends, a man protesting the development of a proposed resort was charged with sending a threatening e-mail to city hall staff, a 28-year-old woman was accused of sending harassing text messages to her ex-husband's girlfriend, and 17-year-old involved with a classmate in a dispute over a girl is accused of sending the classmate death threats via text messages.
At least 18 states currently have laws addressing cyberbullying and harassment.
What do you think? Is cyberharassment a genuine threat?