GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Greenville County Schools officials said nine middle school students were charged by Greenville Police Department this week after they reportedly made threatening comments toward a teacher in a social media group chat.
According to a news release, the students, who all attend Sterling School’s Charles Townes Center Middle School, were suspended and were recommended for expulsion.
“Making threats against a school or school personnel is very serious,” Beth Brotherton, with Greenville County Schools, said. “We are asking parents … to use this as a “teachable moment” and talk with their children about the appropriate use of social media. The current climate requires us to be diligent in investigating any threat made against a school or its staff.”
Brotherton said the students are each facing a charge of student threat, and that any threat claims need to be taken seriously.
“The consequences are severe. and I think that’s the message parents need to have with students.”
Greenville Police confirm the arrests and say all the students were either 13 or 14-years-old. They were released to their parents after being charged.
Brotherton says even a non-credible threat can be damaging.
“The people involved were very concerned for their sfaety. So even though there was maybe no intent on the student’s end to do actual harm, it did do harm,” she said.
She says parents and educators should have a talk with students about the power of their words.
“Talk with your kids about not only the dangers of social media and the things they can get involved in but the dangers of their own words,” said Brotherton.
And encouraged students who may come across a threat not to re-post it, but instead report it right away.
“It is always better to tell and have it investigated then to say nothing and have something bad happen,” said Brotherton.
The Greenville County School District has a cyber security unit that investigates things like this, and also works closely with local law enforcement.