Bullying and death threat sent local student to a mental hospital, lawsuit says

Horry County Schools receive dozens of threats in the wake of Parkland shooting

Barry Markovsky, a University of South Carolina sociology professor, said an increase in threats is common after school shootings.
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Barry Markovsky, a University of South Carolina sociology professor, said an increase in threats is common after school shootings.

A 10-year-old student tried to stab himself and was committed to a mental hospital as a result of bullying, according to a lawsuit that says Horry County Schools did nothing to stop it.

Multiple bullying incidents and a death threat caused a 5th grade student to tell his parents he would rather kill himself than go to school, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, does not identify the 5th grade student allegedly bullied, or his parents. The student is only referred to as Johnnie Doe and his parents as John Doe and Jane Doe.

Shortly after the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, another student began bullying Johnnie, and in once instance, tried to break his neck with the help of several others, according to the complaint.

On Oct. 10, 2017, the 10-year-old told his parents that he would rather kill himself than be bullied anymore, and attempted to stab himself with scissors, the suit says.

School officials said they would keep Johnnie safe, but a nurse called Johnnie’s mother three days after the boy’s attempt to stab himself to say he was kicked, pushed down and hit his head, according to the complaint.

Then on Oct. 16, the bully taunted the 10-year-old to the point where Johnnie said he would punch the other student and was placed on in-school suspension and told he could not come back to school until he got help, the suit says.

After that conversation, Johnnie was taken to the emergency room where doctors and nurses said his fear of being threatened at school was triggering his anxiety and self-harming thoughts, according to the lawsuit. Afterward, Johnnie was committed to the Lighthouse Behavioral Hospital where he was diagnosed with Major Repressive Disorder and PTSD as a result of the bullying.

Johnnie switched schools to get away from the bullying the suit says, and his parents asked for an unspecified amount of damages.

The parents’ attorney Samantha Albrecht provided a statement in a news release, saying that “bullying is an important issue in our public school systems and it is a shame that the school did not take appropriate actions to protect this child. There’s no amount of money that will make up for what this child and his family have gone through, but we’re hoping to help prevent future similar incidents from happening.”

In a statement, Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said “the district does not provide commentary on substantive matters relating to pending litigation.”

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Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian