A Facebook event posting led to the arrest of half a dozen 12- and 13-year-old girls in Carson City, Nevada. “Attack a Teacher Day” was scheduled for today, said an invite that went out to about 100 students at the beginning of the week.
The creator of the posting got arrested Wednesday, along with five others accused of responding with threats against specific teachers, according to the Nevada Appeal.
All six got booked at a juvenile hall with a misdemeanor charge of communicating threats, and received suspensions, with the creator of event getting five days and the others getting three. The girls all insisted the event was a joke, but officials took it seriously.
The timing appears to have influenced how the school reacted. Carson Middle School Principal Dan Sadler told the Associated Press that the girls’ arrests took place on the same day that an Omaha, Nebraska teenager fatally shot an assistant principal, wounded the principal and committed suicide. Sadler said:
School shootings really happen. That’s why we took it seriously. It’s not OK, and it’s not funny in this day and age if you’re going to make a threat against a teacher… They made some pretty violent comments about some teachers, and this isn’t even close to a joke. Children’s stresses are so great that they can act out on their frustrations. Parents need to monitor what their kids are doing on communication devices.
Some 18 students had accepted the invitation for “Attack a Teacher Day,” but only the ones who posted specific threats got arrested. None of the posts contained any specific details about how the attacks might occur. The parents of the girl who created the event pulled the posting upon her arrest.
Interestingly, Sadler told AP that the teachers who were the subject of the posted threats were shocked by the arrests because all six of the girls were supposedly good students, some of them in leadership postions and others with good grades. He said:
I would say their reaction was ‘Are you serious? Is this really happening?’ The more they thought about it, they said they were not OK with it. This is kind of disheartening to an educator.
Aside from the teachers’ reactions, the way the administrators took the Facebook threat seriously shows a marked improvement over how this has been handled as recently as a year ago (click here to read about it). Officials have become much more savvy about Facebook postings, especially the growing number of violent acts that were preceded by posts on the social network.
Do you think the Nevada school officials handled the Facebook threats correctly? Were the girls too young for this sort of punishment? And do you think this will deter other students from doing anything similar?