Bullying in Utah Elementary Schools

Bullying is a problem through most middle to high schools in Utah but many parents are surprised to know it can begin as early as elementary school.

Photo by: Working Word

Bullying starts young

Bullying is most prevalent among middle school age children, but elementary and even preschool age kids can demonstrate early signs of bullying. Young children may act aggressively towards other children to get what they want or they may find that making fun of another child results in laughs from peers. While preschool age children may not have the understanding needed for their actions to constitute deliberate bullying, if unchecked, their behavior may develop into worse conduct as they enter grade school.

Kids at risk of being the bully

Once kids enter elementary school, they begin to observe more how their behavior affects their peers. While this could help kids develop more empathy and concern for others, it can backfire by showing children how to best bully those around them. There are several reasons why a child bullies another:
• They may be mimicking behavior seen at home;
• They could be using bullying to get attention or higher social standing amongst their peers;
• They could hurt another because their own self-esteem is low;
• Or they may have underdeveloped empathy, leaving them unable to see how their behavior is affecting others.

Kids at risk or being bullied

With every bully comes a victim. Sometimes there are multiple victims to one bully but usually there is a single child being picked on, and oftentimes by more than one of their peers. According to stopbullying.gov, “young people who are perceived as different from their peers are often at risk for being bullied.” Some examples of why certain kids are bullied include:
• A child who is naturally taller or built bigger than their classmates;
• A student with disabilities;
• Those who have non-traditional families including children of divorcees;
• A child who isn’t involved with local religious groups;
• Children of ethnic minorities;
• Kids who are naturally quiet or withdrawn, seen as easy targets that won’t fight back.

Prevent bullying at home

Parents are encouraged to teach their children empathy and compassion for others and to nip any signs of bullying in the bud as soon as they occur. Bullying that is not resolved can lead to suspension or expulsion from school and criminal charges if physical harm or threats occur or if electronic devices are used to torment others. Parents whose children are facing charges related to bullying should consult legal counsel from a juvenile defense attorney.

No Charges Filed For Utah Teen Who Made Threats of Violence Online

A Utah teen was released with no charges filed after an investigation into threats of violence he made online.

Report of planned school shooting

A male student at Emery High School in Utah used the social media app Snapchat to make threats of violence towards other classmates at his school. After seeing a Snapchat post that the teen was going to shoot other students, someone alerted police to the threat. The male teen responsible for the frightening post was detained while police investigated the alleged threat.

Taking threats seriously

There is no explanation as to why the teen made the threats toward his peers, however police determined the danger to not be credible. Police interviewed friends of the teen as well as those who may have seen the post on Snapchat. In a case like this, investigators likely searched the teen’s locker, phone, computer and home. Through the investigation however, there was no evidence that the teen actually planned on carrying out the attack. It was likely he said it in frustration or anger.

Threats of violence

According to Utah Code 76-5-107, A person may face class B misdemeanor charges for committing a “threat of violence if:

(a) The person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and acts with intent to place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, substantial bodily injury, or death; or

(b) The person makes a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force of violence, to do bodily injury to another.”

Although the teen made a verbal or written threat of violence, he didn’t act towards the threat at all and was released without charges. The teen didn’t escape unscathed however. He is facing serious backlash from his peers as well as the community. It is important to teach children the criminal as well as social consequences that can occur from making threats of violence towards others. Teens who end up facing charges are encouraged to seek legal counsel with their parents or guardians.

Utah Juvenile Makes Threats Against School; Suspended Indefinitely

Utah Juvenile Makes Threats Against School
Photo: Wapster

In another case of a juvenile threatening violence, a 12-year-old Logan boy was suspended this week for admitting to making threats against his school. The length of the suspension has yet to be determined as well as whether criminal charges will be filed.

Even Online Comments Constitute Threats

According to Logan Police Department Lt. Tyson Budge, they received notification from the online gambling site, roblox.com, that in a routine monitoring of online comments one of their employees had seen threats from a user talking about taking guns to school. The user had reportedly talked about the need to “kill them while they are young.”

Once the user was identified, the police contacted his mother and interviewed him in her presence where he admitted to making the comments. The Mount Logan Middle School student was immediately suspended, and the case was referred to the Cache County Attorney’s Office where additional criminal charges may be filed. The school district is attempting to determine whether the juvenile intended to carry through with these actions to assist them in their determination of the length of the suspension.

In a report from the Herald Journal News of Logan, Assistant Principal Dan Cox was quoted as saying, “[W]e want to protect the safety of all 1,500 people here at this school. We want to take the time to investigate this thoroughly and do right by everyone.”

Threats of Violence Charges Possible

These threats most likely wouldn’t be considered along the lines of “threats of terrorism” similar to the incident that closed Westlake High School on the first day of school. In that case, there was a threat of a weapon of mass destruction [alleged bombs]. However, this incident would at least constitute what the Utah Criminal Code considers Threats of Violence, even if the action is not carried out.

For an adult, these threats are a class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $1,000. For juvenile offenders, they may face restitution, fines or community service.

Making threats of violence is a serious offense and one that indicates perhaps a larger issue that may require professional counseling. In addition, if your child has been charged with making threats of violence–or any other crime–make sure to seek the professional help of a juvenile defense attorney who has your child’s best interests in mind.