Potential school threat; highlights violence prevention

Grants Pass, Ore. —  A student is facing consequences making threatening comments on his school bus. The school district said they’re taking this student’s comments seriously, and they’re using the incident as a lesson, that words have consequences.

“Shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday, there was an incident on one of the Grants Pass High School buses,” said Lieutenant Dennis Ward, Grants Pass Department of Public Safety.

An incident involving language that left the bus driver worried and concerned.

“A group of kids. One of them was talking about possibly shooting up the school,” Lieutenant Ward said.

Police were notified and they opened a full investigation. Fortunately, they didn’t find any weapons but the student was charged with disorderly conduct for his comments.

“We let all of our staff and students know that if they hear any students talking about either harming themselves or harming someone at school, to report immediately to administration,” said Sherry Ely, Grants Pass School District. Ely’s been working for the district for 27 years.

“Back in the day, we didn’t have necessarily specific protocol like make sure you tell somebody if you hear something because we weren’t seeing kids act out on any behaviors where they were like shooting at schools,” Ely said.

But in light of recent events across the country it’s changed the way the district operates.

“This is a serious issue. We talk about, look at the shootings that happened in schools and look at the chaos that it caused,” Ely said.

That’s why the district’s policy is firm – if you make a threatening comment, you will face consequences.

“The police do a citation of disorderly conduct, because it strikes terror in the hearts of parents and other students,” Ely said.

Administrative staff said school is supposed to be a safe place and it makes every effort to keep in that way.

“If you say anything that sounds like you are going to hurt someone at school, or if you say anything where you’re talking about hurting yourself, that will have serious consequences,” Ely said.

Long story short, it’s no joking matter.

“Your words are powerful, your words are important, and you need to be careful with your words even if you’re just joking,” Ely said.

The month of October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the Grants Pass High School principal said the best thing you can do as students or parents is to watch out for each other. Let them know you care, so if they need someone to talk to, they don’t feel alone. Pay attention to any comments someone makes that are ‘out of character’ – statements involving violence, self-harm, or harm to others.

Lastly, if you sense something is wrong – report it. The principal also said reports can stay anonymous. If you see something out of the ordinary – say something. You could be saving lives.

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