Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


02:44 PM

Cyberbullying Conference Fights For Online Victims

Tina Meier, present at the New York City conference, knows there's little she can do about the suicide of her 13-year-old daughter Megan, except embark on a crusade to protect other children.

Jeffrey Johnston would have worn a cap and gown to get his diploma Sunday.

He didn't make it because, after being bullied online, he killed himself.

So, his mother asked the guidance counselor reading graduates' names to whisper "Jeffrey Scott Johnston" when it would have been his turn to walk down the aisle.

"I knew he would be there," Debbie Johnston said, as she spoke about the worst consequences of cyber bullying at a Stop Cyberbullying conference Tuesday at Pace University in New York.

Johnston was an exceptional child, the sixth in a family of seven. His brothers and sisters called him the "golden child." They were certain that someday he was going to change the world. Maybe he would come up with a cure for cancer.

He grew his hair to 14 inches -- when long hair wasn't cool -- so he could donate to "Locks of Love," a charity for cancer patients whose treatment caused their hair to fall out. He knew how to keep a secret and enthusiastically recruited friends to a neighborhood "gang." He kept a binder to record the "gang's" bylaws and history.

In seventh grade, a classmate started rumors and told the girl who liked Jeff that Jeff had said bad things about her. Jeff had no idea it was a fault not to be able to dribble a basketball -- until the classmate taught him otherwise. Jeff, who stood nearly six feet tall and weighed nearly 160 pounds, began to feel so self conscious about his body that he could not bear to remove his shirt at a water park.

The boy who had recruited and collected so many friends found himself alone.

"It's hard to believe you can have so many friends who distance themselves," Debbie Johnston said. "If they sat with Jeff, if they stood up for Jeff, they would have come under fire."

After three years, Jeff couldn't take it anymore. At 15, he went upstairs to his bedroom one night and killed himself. His mother and his brother Joe found him the next morning.

1 of 3
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Aviation Faces Increasing Cybersecurity Scrutiny
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
Microsoft Tops Phishers' Favorite Brands as Facebook Spikes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
Capital One Breach: What Security Teams Can Do Now
Dr. Richard Gold, Head of Security Engineering at Digital Shadows,  8/23/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The authentication applet in Watchguard Fireware 11.11 Operating System has reflected XSS (this can also cause an open redirect).
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
An Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation ("Cross-site Scripting") in Fortinet FortiNAC 8.3.0 to 8.3.6 and 8.5.0 admin webUI may allow an unauthenticated attacker to perform a reflected XSS attack via the search field in the webUI.
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
Lack of root file system integrity checking in Fortinet FortiManager VM application images of all versions below 6.2.1 may allow an attacker to implant third-party programs by recreating the image through specific methods.
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
In version 2.0.3 Apache Santuario XML Security for Java, a caching mechanism was introduced to speed up creating new XML documents using a static pool of DocumentBuilders. However, if some untrusted code can register a malicious implementation with the thread context class loader first, then this im...
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The webtoffee "WordPress Users & WooCommerce Customers Import Export" plugin 1.3.0 for WordPress allows CSV injection in the user_url, display_name, first_name, and last_name columns in an exported CSV file created by the WF_CustomerImpExpCsv_Exporter class.