The problem of cyberbullying gained national attention last November when the story surfaced of a 13-year-old Missouri girl who killed herself following an Internet hoax.

The death of Megan Meier, who was allegedly tormented by a neighbor on the Web, echoed another case three years earlier in Vermont. There, a 13-year-old boy committed suicide after being bullied online by peers who spread rumors that he was gay.

Those incidents — along with complaints from teenagers, parents and educators — are spurring an increasing number of state lawmakers across the USA to draft legislation giving schools more power to do something about bullying over the Internet.

A least seven states, including Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon, passed cyberbullying laws in 2007. Five more — Maryland, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont — are considering similar legislation this year.

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