Last week, six middle school girls in Nevada were arrested for planning to participate in a “Teacher Attack Day” organized through Facebook, according to the Associated Press.
One of the girls set up the Facebook page and invited 100 students at two middle schools to join in, and the other five responded with threats to specific teachers. They were all taken to juvenile hall but later released to their parents. The school suspended them for three to five days.
The girls claimed it was all a joke. The Facebook postings did not include specifics about weapons or how the attacks would be carried out, but they did include the words “die” and “attack,” according to the AP. The parent of the girl who sent the invitation removed the posting from Facebook. Another parent brought it to the attention of the authorities.
“School shootings really happen. That’s why we took it seriously,” said Carson Middle School Principal Dan Sadler. “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.”
The teachers targeted in the threats “were shocked,” reported the AP, because the girls were good students who held leadership positions.
The Facebook postings are even more sobering and serious in light of recent events. The girls were arrested on the same day a 17-year-old in Omaha, Neb., opened fire at his high school, killing the assistant principal before taking his own life.
And the recent violence in Tucson, Ariz., which led to six deaths, has everyone at schools and other public venues on alert.
“Even if the six girls meant it as a joke, there’s no way to know if the other students who accepted the invitation weren’t going to carry out the attacks in some fashion,” Carson City sheriff’s Deputy Jessica Rivera told the AP.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.