"Jumping off the gw bridge sorry" that's what 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman, posted on his Facebook page just moments before jumping to his death.
All teen suicides are shocking and disturbing. But this one is all the more so because it appears it was triggered by his roommate freshman Dhaurn Ravi, who set up a webcam to spy on his roommate.
Here's what was posted on his Twitter account three days before Clementi's suicide:
“Roommate (Clememti) asked for the room til midnight. I went into Molly's room and turned up my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
Seeing Clementi and another teen boy kissing, Ravi and his friend Molly Wei set up a free movie night for anyone with a keyboard to tune in to the reality show of Clementi's private life. Ravi continued on Facebook, "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again."
Allegedly, all of the images of Clementi were posted on the Internet by Ravi and Wei. Harmless college cyberchat? I don't think so. Crime? Absolutely. Transmitting sexual images without consent is a third degree felony punishable by a maximum five years in jail. Add in another two counts of invasion of privacy, and both Ravi and Wei are looking at jail time. But whatever punishment is meted out ---and it should be the maximum under the law-- they will always have the blood of Tyler Clementi on their hands. Did they push him over the George Washington bridge? No. But they brought him to it.
As a mom, I know how enticing Facebook and other social media can be to teens, but as parents we have to take responsibility. First, we need to know what goes on with our kids’ online social networking activities. Second, we need to let our kids know that Internet postings, like most things in life, are not without consequences, intended or unintended.
Yes, I know it's not always easy. In fact, let’s face it. This stuff is really difficult sometimes but it MUST be done. We are letting our kids down --maybe in dangerous ways-- if we don't.
Lis Wiehl is a Fox News legal analyst, author and former federal prosecutor.