Special Report: Middle School Violence in Beaufort County

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Dozens of criminal charges filed against middle school students in Beaufort County last year. More than a hundred assault reports alone, and parents want answers. So, just how safe are our children?

There were 110 criminal citations given to middle school students last year alone, a majority of those for assaults but with more than four-thousand students divided amongst the district’s seven middle schools, district officials say that number isn’t that large…..but parents are concerned.

“You send your kids to school everyday and you hope they are going to be safe, that they’re going to get what they need to get while they’re there that day, schooling is more important than fighting and other drama, its very concerning to all of us parents really,” said parent, Denise Gouldie.

Gouldie’s daughter attended H.E. McCracken Middle School last year, which saw 17 criminal citations alone, she says her daughter reported constant fighting.

“I think its a daily problem, we just don’t know about it when its just a scuffle, maybe a verbal or threatening altercation.”

We’ve pulled hundreds of pages of incident reports over the past two years— and the incidents in these pages range from scuffles to students throwing metal trash cans at other students or slamming heads of other students into lab tables. Despite this, Director of Student Services, Dr. Greggory McCord says the number of incidents isn’t really as bad as it seems.

“110 divided by seven, I mean when you talk about we have approximately 4800 middle school students 110 is not that big a number, however we’d like that number to be zero.”

But for parents like Gouldie, they’re asking why any student that age should be charged with assault, let alone more than 100….. and she wants to know whats being done to curb the problem…

Denise Gouldie:”Is it bullying? Is it just kids sticking up for themselves? Is it boy drama, girl drama, kids fighting amongst themselves for other reasons, is it drug-related, family related, find out what the problem is in each situation, and then try to find what each solution might be.”

so i went to the top to find out just whats being done.

Greggory McCord: “At the schools we have proactive administrations, we also have guidance counselors, social workers, that meet with students to discuss issues related to conflict resolution and conflict management. We like to think we do a pretty good job at ensuring our students safety.”

but mccord says as far as discipline–its a case by case basis…i asked if a student gets a family court citation one day for fighting—could that student be back in school the next day…..and he said its possible.

“I think these kids think its no big deal and they’ll just get suspended for a few days, in-school suspension, maybe expelling them or calling the police department and have them directly involved, more SRO officers, having more than one heavy, I think having one to two is not enough for that student body,” Gouldie says.

But McCord says the combination of conflict resolution plus education by the school resource officers is working.

“I think we are doing the best we can to keep that number as low as possible,” McCord said.

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