Yesterday we blogged about year 9 student, Michaela Blaauw, whom is about to go to live with her grandparents in Kwa Zulu Natal to escape bullying at Howick College, a decile 10 school in Auckland.
Michaela and her family emigrated from South Africa about 5 years ago.
Following De Wet Blaauw’s meeting with the school later on Monday he reportedly told the Herald that the school “didn’t think it had a problem and that this was an isolated incident.”
Today Elizabeth Binning, writing for the NZ Herald – “School in denial over bullying : father” – reported that the newspaper had received messages about the school from its readers which included
- A mother of a year 10 boy that was beaten by five larger boys, one of whom hit him so hard on the back of his head that he broke the bones in his hand. She also stated that one of the bullies had intimidated her whilst she waited for her son after school
- A mother of whose daughter left the school in 2008 after enduring “a traumatic year”. She alleges that she was told she may as well take daughter out of the school as there was “nothing they could do” – “The bullying was too widespread and it would have been too difficult to contain it.”
read her full report here
Is the school in denial, or does its definition of bullying not agree with that of the Blaauw family?
Is bullying is so widespread has it become part of the culture of this school and therefore almost impossible to control? If so perhaps it is easier to pretend it doesn’t exist, to turn a blind eye to it – ultimately the kids who aren’t able to cope with it will be removed, or leave.
In our blog yesterday we spoke of Ray Lewis, a senior economics teacher at this school who took a case to the Employment Relations Authority after he was sacked in April 2008.
He claimed he was repeatedly bullied by other staff. To start with his claim was dismissed but during a successful appeal in April 2010 it emerged that there was more to his story.
Mr Lewis was a whistleblower who had raised concerns over numerous incidents. He believed he was targeted after he complained to the Prime Minister and other officials.
Among his concerns were the school’s responsibilities for the death of a 17 year old student, Ross Kimpton, during a rugby tour, who fell from a hotel window in London after he’d been drinking. Mr Lewis was also said to have had worries about NCEA criteria.
The NZ Herald obtained a report into Ross Kimpton’s death using the Official Secrets Act and said that it
“revealed the board of trustees had concerns about the team drinking and about what happened after Ross’s death.”
The article went on to state
“Howick College’s director of sport pulled out of the ill-fated rugby tour to the UK and Ireland because he “feared something could happen”.
Speaking for the first time about the incident, Chris Hull said everyone involved in the tour was still deeply affected by the death of Ross Kimpton.
Hull had fundraised endlessly for the trip but withdrew after becoming concerned about the way the tour was going to be run.
He told school management about rumours the students were “going to get on the ‘large’ … as soon as they got there” and later heard they consumed “vast amounts of alcohol” on the tour.
He said he respected the boys on the tour “but everyone knew they would drink on Saturday nights”.
After Kimpton’s death, the school placed a cloak of secrecy over the incident, said Hull.
“It was all swept under the carpet,” he said. ” Read the full report HERE on the Herald’s website.
The Blaauw’s story was briefly covered on Kiwiblog and generated a good number of responses with a heated discussion on the relative merits of smacking and not smacking children.
Among the comments was the following allegation
“# Fale Andrew Lesa (378) Says:
November 6th, 2010 at 1:45 pm
I’ve been told via the grapevine that some students are being encouraged to write into the NZ Herald to confirm that bullying is not an issue within the school.
How desperate is this maneuver and what do they hope to achieve by it?
Bullying is an issue for almost every public school in the country, and most of it does not occur in front of the cinema screen for the world to see. It occurs behind the scenes, often with very little coverage from the “outside world”.
How reliable this report is is anyone’s guess, to date no such letters have appeared in the on-line editions of The Herald.
To read about more cases of bullying, NZ’s appalling record of school bullying /violence and “significant human rights issues in its schools” click here :Howick schoolgirl returns to South Africa to escape bullies.
It’s time to get this issue out into the open, time for schools to enforce zero tolerance anti-bullying policies and time for victims to be encouraged to apply for protection orders against the abusers. School should be a safe, nurturing place for all children – where they can feel hope for the future.