Landmark Cyberbullying Trial

Posted on: 11/26/08 6:57 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you may remember the case about the girl and her mom who created a face MySpace account with full intent to hurt a girl that they didn’t like. Their plan worked. The girl did get hurt… she committed suicide. (We mentioned it in a Youth Culture Window article a while back.)

The case is now in the hands of the jury.

Drew (the mom) is charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of unauthorized computer access for allegedly violating the MySpace terms of service by creating a fake profile for a non-existent 16-year-old boy named “Josh Evans.” She faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each charge.

According to prosecutors, Drew conspired to create the account with her then 13-year-old daughter, Sarah, and a then 18-year-old employee and friend of the family named Ashley Grills, for the purpose of inflicting psychological harm on 13-year-old Megan Meier, who then committed suicide.

Meier had angered the Drews by calling Sarah Drew a “lesbian.”

Meier, who suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts, fell in love with the fake “Josh,” prosecutors said. She killed herself only after he turned on her, and told her “the world would be a better place without you.”

Read the whole article here.

It’s Time to “Bully” Once Again

Posted on: 02/25/08 12:01 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last weekend when I was in Pennsylvania I saw a video game cover that caught my eye in a Game Stop window. The game is called “Bully: Scholarship Edition” …and you’re going to want to know about this one.

Brought to you by Rockstar Games, the lovely people that provided the “Grand Theft Auto” games, the new “Bully” for Xbox 360 and Wii will hit the video game shelves March 4th. This game features exclusive content which was apparently unavailable in the PS2 version released in 2006. And now, with the XBox 360 graphics, you’ll be able to get into mischief and kick some butt in High Def! And now you can do it with online multiplayer features.

They say that pictures speak 1,000 words. Well… then previews must speak 10,000. This trailer will show you more about the true content of this new game than I could ever describe to you. (NOTE: Don’t worry… I’m not showing you something innapropriate for your eyes… this trailer would probably be approved for all audiences. When you see it you’ll just agree that it’s sad that this is the entertainment deemed acceptable for our kids today. We’ve come a long way since “Space Invaders”.)

For those of us that missed the first “Bully” game–Bully or be bullied– that seems to be the name of the game.

“Bully” doesn’t have graphic gun violence like “Grand Theft Auto.” Instead, you fist fight with other kids. Common Sense Media describes the violence on the original version like this:

Parents need to know that this game is not Grand Theft Auto (the games were both created by Rockstar Games). It is, however, about bullying behavior in a school setting and therefore — given the sad state of school violence — a hot-button topic for parents. There is plenty of psychological brutality and physical violence (fistfighting, kicking, and “humiliating” finishing moves). Weapons include a baseball bat, garbage can lid, and fire extinguisher but, there are no guns, blood, or gore. Because this game deals with intimidation and violence with realistic language, parents who let their kids play it should absolutely talk about school violence (see next paragraph). The game contains some sexual remarks and alcohol references; and depending on the path taken, the main character, Jimmy Hopkins, can kiss another boy. Pranks include firing at football players from a tree with a slingshot and throwing marbles on the ground for others to trip over. The game does include consequences for misdeeds. describes the new game as a sort of “director’s cut” for the original “Bully.”

“The new version keeps the soul of the original PlayStation 2 game and adds a next-gen polish to its body. It also adds new graphics, extra solo missions, and multiplayer games.”

The game is rated “T” which means for teens. But that means that kids can purchase it. I called up my local Game Stop store to ask them about it. The rated “T” supposedly means you have to be 14. But that isn’t enforced. The only rating enforced is “M.” According to this Game Stop employee, everything below M is just a recommendation. “So a 6 year old can come in and buy this?” I asked. “Yep. We can sell anything to a six-year-old but M.”

Some think the game should be “M.” The National Institute on MEDIA and the FAMILY issued a KidScore rating of RED for the first”Bully,” commenting that they think the game should be rated “M” for only mature audiences. And when the original game was first going to be released, Miami lawyer and video game critic Jack Thomson filed a lawsuit against Rockstar Games parent company Take 2 Interactive, as well as Wal-Mart, and Game Stop, trying to prevent them from being able to sell the game to minors. TechNewsWorld reported that the Florida circuit court judge “decided not to ban the sale of the controversial game to minors.”

So the new “Bully” will be just like everything else in this world… easy access. That means it’s up to parents.