Helping teens with the unmet desire to fit in

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, talks about wanting to fit in and doing the right thing
Parenting Advice | Helping kids with the unmet desire to fit in
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Helping teens with the unmet desire to fit in

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I think the advice I would give to teens who want to fit in and just want to be part of that group - they maybe don't want to be in the most popular group. And they don't want to be at the bottom where they're being made fun of or left out. If you fit in, and sometimes we do things that we know aren't okay. We usually have that gut feeling inside, that thing that makes us know or not feel very good about what we're doing. If you have that feeling, and you know it's wrong, follow that gut instinct. Don't be a part of it. If they choose that they're not going to be your friends because of that, they really truly weren't your friends to begin with. I know that's hard because you want that acceptance. You want to be friends with them. And if you aren't, it feels like you're never going to have friends. But I will tell you, when we follow people who do things that we know hurt others, or it doesn't feel good to us, we start to lose who we really are and who we enjoy, and we start becoming a puppet to them. And that certainly is not a life. And usually at the end of the day, the people who stand up for other people's rights, those are the people that when they leave school, those are the people that will run companies. Those are the people that will make a difference in this world, because regardless of what other people think, if they know in their heart it's the right thing to do, they're going to stand up and make a difference, and they're going to help other people. And when I tell teens about this, I know that even when they stand up for other people, they're going to get those people that are kind of on the back end who say, oh really, you have to go help everybody else. And aren't you just a saint? And they make all of these negative comments. At the end of the day, we have to focus on the positive. If we listen to every negative thing that people say, we'll never get anywhere in this world. After my daughter Megan took her own life, and this was a media frenzy and we had all of the media at our front doorstep, one reporter came to me and said, listen Tina, 50% of the public is going to want to see you succeed. But 50% of the public is going to want to see you fail. If you focus on that 50% that wants to see you fail, you're never going to make it. So from that point, I have not looked at blogs. I don't look at any comments on any reports. I focus on the positive. I look forward and know that if I'm helping another person, another student, another parent, if I'm able to do that, then that's the positive that I look forward to. And I continue to keep believing and moving forward. That's what we want kids to really understand - embrace who they are, not push down the beliefs they have for other people, because at the end of the day, if they're really truly their friends, they'll support them in the things that they believe in.
TEEN, Social Life, Friends, Peer Pressure

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, talks about wanting to fit in and doing the right thing

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Expert Bio

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Tina Meier

Executive Director

Tina Meier is an internationally recognized expert on bullying, cyberbullying, internet safety, conflict resolution, the roles of parents and educators, sexting, and suicide awareness and prevention.

On October 16, 2006, Tina Meier’s life took a devastating turn when her 13 year old daughter, Megan Taylor Meier, took her own life. All attempts were made to save Megan, but unfortunately Megan passed away on October 17, 2006, just weeks from her 14th birthday.

Approximately 5 weeks prior to her passing, a 16 year old boy by the name of Josh Evans, contacted Megan through her MySpace account and they began a friendship. Tina Meier, allowed Megan to have a MySpace account with many restrictions and under her watchful eye.  Unfortunately, on that fateful day of October 16, 2006, Josh Evans and Megan began to have an argument over MySpace.  A few others joined in and horrible and hurtful messages and bulletins went out publicly to hundreds of kids. The last words that were said to Megan from Josh were, “The world would be a better place without you” and “Have a shi**y rest of your life.”

Six weeks after Megan’s suicide, Tina Meier was informed that Josh Evans never existed. In fact, he was the fictitious creation of Lori Drew, an adult neighbor that lived down the street, her 13-year-old daughter Sarah, which was Megan’s former friend, and an 18-year-old employee that worked out of Lori Drew’s home.

In December of 2007, Tina Meier, founded the 501 (c)(3) non-profit Megan Meier Foundation.  The Foundation’s mission is to “create awareness, education and promote positive change to children, parents and educators in response to the ongoing bullying and cyberbullying in our children’s daily environment.” Tina’s hope is to make a difference through spreading Megan’s story, create awarness regarding internet safety, and educate others on the consequences of bullying and cyberbullying. She hopes to help one child at a time cope with these negative social issues. Ultimately, her goal is to empower children to be the change and continue the Foundation’s mission.

At the time of this tragedy, the State of Missouri did not have laws in place to prosecute someone using electronic communications to cyberbully another person. Tina worked closely with Senator Scott Rupp and Governor Matt Blunt’s Internet Task Force for the State of Missouri to help pass Senate Bill 818, which went into law on August 28, 2008. This law amended the harassment and stalking laws to include electronic communication.

Each year, Tina travels throughout the country as a keynote speaker addressing the issue of bullying and cyberbullying in today’s world to students, educators, administrators, parents, youth rallies, counselors, law enforcement, and other professionals. Through Tina’s inspirational and educational message, the audience is empowered to make a difference not only for themselves, but others also.

Tina has continued to spread the Foundation’s message and Megan’s story through national and international media appearances such as network television stations, radio, news shows, magazines and syndicated talk shows. She also accepted a Presidential invitation to attend the 2011 White House Anti-Bullying Conference, presented at the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools National Conference in Washington, DC, and served as a consultant during the production of the ABC Family movie, Cyberbully.

Tina Meier resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with her daughter Allison. 

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