Naming Names in the MySpace Suicide?

On today's show, reporter Steve Pokin of the St. Charles Journal talked about breaking the story of Megan Meiers, the 13-year-old girl who hanged herself after a neighbor girl's family wooed her with a fake MySpace suitor. When the suitor turned on Megan and told her the world would be better off without her, she hanged herself.

Pokin's paper hasn't named the other family, even as bloggers plaster their names and personal information all over the Web. A handful of mainstream media outlets, including the Boston Globe, has named the family.

NPR is choosing not to name the other family at this point. What would you do?



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My opinion honestly is... if you are going to provide a link to their name... go ahead and say the name. The genie is already out of the bottle.

[They] are despicable people.

The suicide... its arguable they didn't know the kid had problems... but still the act of bullying a teenager is disgusting. And besides, teen years are filled with emotional turmoil and one doesn't know who is emotionally disabled and who isn't... so on to err on the side of caution and decency... adults never ever ever should pick fights with kids.

I applaud the teens who are doing vigils and protests outside [their] house. That's awesome to see Megan's peers find justice; its good to see kids hold passion for what's right (although justice should not give rise to vengence).

There is going to be a whole lot of kids in that area who are never ever ever going to trust a cop, or any authority figure. If a community loses a kid at that age in such a gross manner, with no official action taken by the law... that community has lost the trust of a good number of the deceased's peers.

I used to be tormented by 2 teachers in junior high school all the time. At one point it escalated to one of them randomly deciding out of the blue to hit me for no reason. It was crazy. I placed complaints. Nothing happened. How many teachers and cops did I trust after that? Zero.

Sent by Brian | 2:10 PM | 11-27-2007

@Brian: Good point about that link to the Boston Globe story. I pulled it.

Sent by Laura Conaway, NPR | 2:41 PM | 11-27-2007

I think the media should post the name of the other family. From listening to the BPP coverage of this story and reading a few articles about it, it is clear that there are police reports with the mother admitting to having conversations with Megan on the internet so she deserves to have her name attached to what she did.

This is such a haunting story. I think the most awful part about it is the fact that for so long the family acted like they had no idea why Megan committed suicide. Its pretty disgusting and I think blame should be placed by posting the name.

Sent by Kate Pennington | 3:10 PM | 11-27-2007

Why should this family receive more special treatment than any other common criminal?

Sent by Georgia M. | 5:53 PM | 11-27-2007

Until police charge the woman who allegedly drove the girl to suicide, or until the family is sued, or sues someone, NPR is making the right call.

It would be a real simple libel suit if the allegations turned out to be false. It would literally hit all 7 points a libel suit needs to be successful.

However, link or not, I can figure out the Globe's web address. Why not just leave it at "A handful of mainstream media outlets has named the family?"

Sent by Andrew Jones | 11:17 PM | 11-27-2007

i would show the names if they do the crime they can pay the time. why should they get any protection! they did not show the girl any!

Sent by anna potts | 2:39 PM | 11-28-2007

No NPR should not name the woman. If the police make the information a public record, than why does a news media need to publish. In this case I think the woman should be charged with criminal negligence in a homicide. This woman is one sick individual.

However, internet shaming as a rule, has too many unintended consequences and should not be done. Suppose this guilty woman's daughter took her own life as a result of her mother's crimes? Thank would not be right.

Sent by Mary Ann - Annandale | 2:42 PM | 11-28-2007

It is probably time that we treated cyberspace the same as any other territory. If someone verbally assaults another in cyberspace then they could be banned from cyberspace, rather like losing your driving priviledges. Just like sex-offenders need to register all their email addresses and login names, these assault perpetrators should do the same and for a period of time, depending on the severity of the case, be banned. If it is found that they are using the Internet while banned, the punishment should be similar to if you are caught driving whilst banned. It would take a while to have a deterrent effect but it would happen.

Sent by Alan Kelso | 9:26 PM | 12-3-2007

Cyber-bullying is such a growing problem and everyone needs to awaken and see this technology-aided form of harrassment.

Sent by Cole Everett | 9:16 AM | 12-4-2007

If this mother knew her immature and mean actions would become public, she probably would not have tortured a young girl. It's too late for her, but perhaps reporting the whole story, i.e., her name, will make others think before they act.

Sent by Lyn Vann | 12:52 PM | 12-4-2007

Disgusting that a 48 year old woman has to stoop this low. What happens to teaching your children compassion and respect for other people.
What happened to being the better person.
It's parents like this that are ruining our society today.

Sent by sue | 1:59 PM | 12-4-2007

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