GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) -A Greenville Police Department incident report gives a disturbing look into some of the messages between gifted middle school students who are now facing charges and possible expulsion.
The incident report showed the messages were sent through Instagram.
Documents show the chat between several students at the Sterling School’s Charles Towne Middle School started as a way to lodge complaints about a specific teacher. It soon turned into something much darker with several threats against the teacher’s life.
Experts said it’s a lesson all parents can take to their children.
“We have to help kids learn that words have a lot of weight,” said Caitlin McLear, a child psychologist with Synergy Psych.
She said school threats have become a more frequent topic among her patients.
“They’re worried that if somebody comes to the school are they going to hurt me? Are they going to hurt my friends?” McLear said.
In the case of the students now facing charges, the violent messages ranged from tampering with the teacher’s vehicle to talking about the use of guns.
“We want to take the threats seriously because obviously if they’re real we want to intervene and keep something tragic from happening,” said McLear.
According to the report, an off duty officer was made aware of the group message between the eighth graders at the gifted middle school. Eventually one student agreeing to show the conversation.
“You always need to go tell an adult. Even if your friend is making a joke, if you can’t tell if they’re serious or not you have to speak up,” said McLear.
McLear said parents can start by teaching their kids good habits when it comes to posting on social media.
“I think a really good policy is, is our family we don’t joke about that kind of thing,” said McLear.
She said they can use stories like this one to show their children what can happen.
“Those words do have a lot of meaning. So I think parents do need to pull news articles and say they said something like this, they thought it was a joke, but here are the consequences.”
The report also showed that the school has a zero tolerance policy. Several other students who were part of the group message but did not participate in the threatening conversation were spoken to about the severity of this incident.
Those nine students who are facing charges could also be expelled.