Ending cyber cruelty

Published 12:16 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In a world where many say all news is bad news, we here in Shelby County received good news this week — Deanna Niven is home.

The outpouring of prayers for the 16-year-old girl who disappeared on Easter was nothing short of amazing. Several held vigil at Kingwood Church, thousands joined an online group on Facebook honoring Niven and hundreds posted heartfelt messages on the group’s Web page.

The comforting words from teenagers and adults, families and individuals, neighbors and strangers reaffirmed the goodness that exists within our community.

But once Niven was found and had admitted to running away, the messages took on a cruel tone.

A handful of cyber bullies overshadowed those who rejoiced in Niven’s discovery. The comments became so rampant that the online group’s creator, Niven’s brother, is attempting to dismantle the Web page.

Cyber incidents like these have become all too common, so much so that some lawmakers are working to criminalize online harassment. West Virginia recently introduced a bill that would make online harassment a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine or up to six months in prison.

Why heap emotional stress on a family whose two days of anguish is obviously beyond the comprehension of most?

No matter the circumstances of Niven’s disappearance, the bottom line is that she is home safe.

That is all that matters.