LAURENS, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – The family of a Laurens County student accused of chasing another student with a knife at school is speaking out. They say the girl is a victim of prolonged bullying who simply snapped.
Now, they want to raise awareness about bullying prevention.
The teen’s sister, Joquetta Burnside wants to be clearn that she doesn’t condone the alleged behavior from her sister, but says no child should ever be scared enough to feel bringing a weapon to school is necessary.
“It’s a nightmare, actually, just to watch it and to not know what’s going on,” said Burnside, referring to a video of the incident now being shared thousands of times.
It shows her sister allegedly chasing a girl with a knife before being tackled by a school coach, but what Burnside says we do not see is what led up to the incident.
“It was because she had been bullied,” said Burnside.
She said the bullying persisted over a year, causing emotional trauma for the 16 year old.
“She talked about it with a therapist. She’s actually attempted suicide,” said Burnside.
The bullying has been documented in doctors notes, according to Burnside. As for the latest incident, she provided 7 News with a text message conversation between her sister and a friend.
In the conversation, the teen states multiple people threatened to hurt her at school and she brought the knife because she “couldn’t fight that many people at once.”
“She was going to hide out in the bathroom all morning. She was scared. She didn’t want to fight. She didn’t want to get kicked out of school,” said Burnside, paraphrasing the remaining conversation.
Laurens School District 55 told 7 News they could not comment on this case in particular, but they do investigate bullying claims when made aware. They encourage any student to share concerns with a teacher or administrator.
Burnside said fear kept her sister silent.
“I wish she would’ve said something to somebody so we could’ve called the school or called the kids’ parents to try and prevent this from happening, but she didn’t say anything,” she said.
This is why Burnside is encouraging parents to talk to their kids, asking them specifically about bullying.
“Bullying is real. People commit suicide because somebody is bullying them or something like this,” she said. “I do think having a conversation about it is the first step.”
Burnside’s sister went before a judge Wednesday morning and is being held in a juvenile jail on $30,000 bond. She’s charged with two counts of aggravated assault and battery and bringing a gun on school property.