Under the Hat: The Other Side - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under the Hat: The Other Side

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A situation with a bullied student in the Girard School District this week really showcases the difficulty we all have in identifying kids who may act out violently and intervene correctly before the situation turns tragic.

Inevitably, after a Chardon or a Columbine comes the pointing of fingers:

Why didn't we see this coming?

How can a kid accumulate weapons?

Where are the parents?

The other side of that story is a 17-year old Girard kid named Austin Carner who learned Sunday night that he was the focus of a Facebook firestorm saying that he got in an argument on Friday and would be bringing a gun to school on Monday.

Austin fits the profile.

A tall, thin red head with a learning disability and severe asthma, he was just the kind of target bullies would search out.

It didn't help that in a previous incident Austin brandished a utility knife in an attempt to defend himself.

So when students went to school on Monday they were welcomed by police.

Parents were told that they had the option of leaving their children home for the day.

No one was more surprised than Austin to realize that he was the focus of all the commotion.

He had no weapon and no intention of bringing a weapon.

The school district and the police would later tell reporters that Carner was cleared of any wrongdoing, himself the victim of the viral rumor mill that exists in cyberspace.

The district and the police erred on the side of caution, something I would appreciate if either of my daughters attended school there.

But Austin's 15 minutes of fame now makes it impossible for him to go back to school in Girard.

He is being moved into a school that has programs for kids who have trouble fitting in.

He says he just wants other kids to give him a break so that he can finish his education.

I hope, at long last, he can find it.

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