It’s perhaps a cautionary tale because the outcome could have been far worse.
A Mount Dora High School student was arrested on January 11 on suspicion of “disruption of a school facility.” The arrest came after the student, Charles Gould, allegedly attempted to obtain a gun to protect himself from bullies.
Two students overheard Gould, 20, on his cell phone saying that he needed a "9 or 45" to “protect himself and his family,” according to the arrest report. That person advised Gould he couldn’t get him a gun.
A third student confronted Gould to ask what he was doing. Gould responded "he was going to get ‘jumped’ and he was going to get a gun to shoot them," the report stated.
According to the same report, Gould waived his rights and told Mount Dora Police officers he was "being bullied by five students and was fearful he was going to be jumped by them."
As word quickly spread of the incident, concerned parents from the high school, as well as Mount Dora Middle School, placed calls to the schools about the welfare of their children, according the MDMS’s School Resource Officer, Mike Garcia.
Rumors that the suspect threatened to "shoot up the school" were not substantiated in the arrest report and there was no incident at the middle school.
The incident has safely passed. However, the teachable moment that comes with it still avails itself. Parents are encouraged to talk with their kids about the options available to students when they feel threatened or bullied at school. The goal is to let kids know help is available and violence isn’t the answer.
Charles Gould, 20
Lake County Public Schools has developed a bullying complaint form for individuals to report such incidents. Optionally, the report can be made anonymously. Students and parents can find the forms here https://www.lake.k12.fl.us/page/1243
If a parent or friend fears a student is in immediate danger, they should contact the school or police immediately. Parents can teach their children to say something if they hear or see anything. Open communication can help the victim, as well as help prevent desperate acts.
The signs of bullying can be observed at home as well as at school, according to LCPS. In order to assist a child that might be a target, parents and teachers need to recognize warning signs.
Reluctance to attend school activities
Unexplained drop in academic performance
Reluctance to walk to or from school
Reluctance to discuss school
Headaches, stomach aches, or other unexplained illnesses
Changes in sleep patterns
Sad or depressed demeanor
Loss of interest in activities formerly enjoyed
Parents of targets can assist their children by:
Encouraging their child to tell an adult
Asking the school for assistance
Explaining the difference between tattling and telling
Encouraging a "buddy" system if a child walks to and/or from school
Turning off a TV program or video game that reinforces the idea of aggression as a way to deal with conflict