When I was student teaching, a student handed in the most disturbing story I had ever read. It included male rape, graphic violence, and two brutal (and detailed) murders. It was gruesome.
The author of the story was in 7th grade at the time. He was my best student--smart and popular (a rarity in middle school), outgoing, from an involved and stable family. His mother was a social worker, and I knew her independently from activities in the neighborhood.
The story spooked me. I showed it to my cooperating teacher, then several other teachers, then the guidance counselor, and finally the principal. "If it was any other kid, I'd be worried," was the response I heard from everyone. And I wanted to agree. But still.
Eventually I spoke to the student and his mother--separately and together. He very comfortably explained the story was made up, inspired by novels and video games that he described. His mother was embarrassed, but not particularly concerned.
And so I let it go.
The student is in high school now. I see him in the neighborhood sometimes--he hangs out in a pizza place I pass on my way home from school. He looks well, and for all I know he is well, but I've always wondered if I should have done more. Especially now.