Grown Up Mean Girls: Mom on Mom Cyberbullying

Moms looking for advice and community online often find harsh words, insults.

ByANNA WILD via logo
March 23, 2010, 1:31 PM

April 28, 2010 — -- Motherhood is supposed to be like apple pie and a warm hug. Wholesome. Dependable.

But online, it can be anything but. Right next to support groups on diaper rash and the terrible twos are mean girls, all grown up.

It's mom on mom cyberbullying and as the popularity of mommy blogging rises, so do the often stinging criticisms.

A mom who asks about baby bottles is called "a cop out" and "uneducated" for not breastfeeding. Working moms are "selfish" and co-sleeping moms are labeled "irresponsible" online.

"There's a lot of insecurity, a lot of confusion, resentment, just about being a mother," psychiatrist and mommy blogger Janet Taylor told "Good Morning America." "There's a sense of 'I have to be better than you and I'm going to prove it by writing negative things.' Not supporting, just writing negative things."

And it seems nothing is off limits.

In December 2009, mother of four and popular mommy blogger Shellie Ross found her 2-year-old drowned in the pool. She tweeted to her 5,400 followers less than an hour after finding her son, "Please pray like never before, my 2yr old fell in the pool." Her son didn't make it. Afterwards, she tweeted, "Remembering my million dollar baby."

Though she told ABC News she did not "tweet-by-tweet the accident," within minutes her Twitter feed was flooded with responses -- some sympathetic, but many angry. Some blamed her for her son's death.

"A child is dead because [of] his mother's infatuation with Twitter," one wrote.

"She had a community that followed her as she was tweeting, the last thing that she's thinking about is that she's going to get criticized," Taylor said. "Online you don't have the contact that you have offline. Typically people who write the most negative comments would not say that to your face. So, there is this barrier that allows moms to feel like they can write whatever they want."

Moms Criticize Mother of Bullied Girl

Norie Pereira, mother of two from New Jersey, has been dealing with the sting of that criticism for four years.

Her then-16-year-old daughter Ally sent a topless photo of herself from her cell phone to an ex-boyfriend, who sent the picture to classmates at school. It went viral. At first, Norie said she was angry at her daughter.

"My first instinct was I'm embarrassed, I'm ashamed," Norie said. "After I calmed down, thank God, I started talking to her and she was able to tell me that they [classmates] were brutalizing her, terrorizing her, threatening to beat her up, threatening to kill her."

Norie said Ally went through psychological bullying throughout school. It made Norie want to speak out to other mothers to prevent that humiliation from happening to their daughters. But going public triggered a wave of mommy bullying that shocked her even more.

"A lot of mothers called Ally a slut and a whore," she said. "It was a lack of parenting and we should have taught her morals and we should have taught her self-respect. Basically that I was a horrible parent and it devastated me because they know where to get you. Mothers go after your mothering.

"It just amazes me that there's no compassion, especially [in] moms because you think moms have that maternal feeling to protect," she said.

To help out all those moms on the mommy blogs, internet safety expert Parry Aftab provided the following tips:

If You Are Attacked Online

To Prevent Attacks

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