GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - In an exclusive interview with Channel 2 's Michael Seiden, the father of a Gwinnett teacher described the events that led up to a student stabbing his daughter with a butcher knife.
Channel 2 Action News first reported Monday afternoon the stabbing in a language arts classroom.
The father said that his daughter did not have any problems with the 13-year-old student prior to Monday’s attack, which started when the bell was about to ring.
"He said ‘he had something to give her but it was too big to bring up. A surprise to give her. So he walked up to her desk. He rummaged around in his backpack and pulled a knife and stabbed her," he told Seiden.
His daughter was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center and was conscious and talking to first responders. No one else was hurt. School officials said the eighth-grader was taken into custody.
The teacher's father gives credit to the brave students and faculty who helped save his daughter’s life.
“They were amazing. The way they treated her and some of her students stepped up. We are really blessed to have people who care about her," he said.
The father believes the district should either force students to keep their backpacks inside the lockers until the end of the day or at least make it mandatory for students to carry clear backpacks.
"Stuff like this is so easy to hide," he said.
After our exclusive interview aired on Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m., the district sent us this response:
"We appreciate this input and will evaluate these suggestions and other recommendations we receive as we continue to study safety in our schools."
School principal Ryan Queen sent a letter to parents that was released by the school system. Read the entire letter below:
Dear Trickum Middle School Parents/Guardians,
I want to follow up with you on my earlier communication to you about the incident that occurred today. I now have more details that I can share with you. We did take a 13 year old male student into custody today after he stabbed one of our 8th grade teachers. The student reportedly called the teacher over and then struck her in the chest area with an 8-inch butcher knife that he had in his bookbag. Help was called and while our SRO was responding to the room the young man grabbed another student. Our SRO was able to enter the classroom and disarm him without harm to anybody else. I am very thankful to our SRO for her handling of this situation, as well as to our teachers and students for their response.
Again, none of our students and no other staff members were hurt physically; however, we know that this has had an emotional toll on all of us. As part of our response, we are making personal calls to the families of students who were in the classroom during this incident. That said, we are taking steps tomorrow to ensure we can support our students and staff and to help them have as normal a school day as possible. We will have an additional police presence at school tomorrow to provide our students and staff with an additional sense of security and to calm any anxiety.
In addition, we are canceling our JA trip for our 8th grade students tomorrow and will be rescheduling for a future date. This will ensure we can provide our students and teachers the support they need. We will have additional counselors on site and I have asked all of our staff members to pay particular attention to our students' demeanor tomorrow so we can identify any students who may need to talk about this situation. We have never had a situation like this at our school and I know we all are concerned about this and the fact that one of our Trickum Middle family was hurt at the hands of a student is very upsetting.
I ask that you keep our teacher who was injured in your thoughts and prayers. In addition, we know this has touched our entire community—from our teachers who comforted our injured teacher and our other teachers who are concerned about their friend and co-worker to our students who may be anxious about this situation and parents who have understandable concerns.
I am including below this communication some information that our counselors provided that may be of use to all of us as we help our school community respond to this situation. As always, I appreciate your support of our students, staff, and school. Working together, we will help our community heal, knowing that Trickum Middle School is the greatest middle school in the nation.
How we can help our children:
1. Model calm and control. Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives. Avoid appearing anxious or frightened.
2. Reassure children that they are safe and so are the other important adults in their lives. Depending on the situation, point out factors that help insure their immediate safety and that of their community.
3. Let children know that it is okay to feel upset. Explain that all feelings are okay when a situation like this occurs. Let children talk about their feelings and help put them into perspective. Even anger is okay, but children may need help and patience from adults to assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
4. Observe children’s emotional state. Depending on their age, children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. Children will express their emotions differently.
5. Look for children at greater risk. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others.
6. Tell children the truth. Don’t try to pretend the event has not occurred or that it is not serious. Children are smart. They will be more worried if they think you are too afraid to tell them what is happening.
7. Stick to the facts. Don’t embellish or speculate about what has happened and what might happen.
8. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. Middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. In addition they will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence and threats to safety in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society.
9. Monitor your own stress level. Don’t ignore your own feelings of anxiety. You will be better able to support your children if you can express your own emotions in a productive manner. Get appropriate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
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