Hadlin Onverwacht is a 13 year old teen who left the troubles of South Africa four years ago.
Unfortunately when she emigrated from South Africa to New Zealand she never imagined that she was exchanging one set of strife and tribulations for another when she became a pupil at Mount Roskill Grammar School in Auckland.
If you are considering emigration to New Zealand because you believe it to be a safer place in which to raise your family you may wish to find out more about New Zealand’s bullying problem, and not just for the sake of your children.
Hadlin’s plight was the subject of a Campbell Live TV investigation. You can watch the video on the 3News website here.
Campbell introduced the report with
She lives her day in fear of a group of girls who continually harass and bully her
Hadlin has been suffering this abuse since the middle of last year.
What is Mount Roskill school doing about it?
Her story is remarkably similar to that of another South African teen: Michaela Blaauw a year 9 student at Howick College, Auckland. She was bullied so badly at school that her family had no option other than to send her back to live with her grandparent in Kwa Zulu Natal. Read more here (all links open in a new window)
Hadlin’s mother is said to be at her wits end – she’s contacted the school, the police and her local MP, who told her there was nothing they could do if they didn’t have proof. But the threats have extended to the whole family. Her mother said, that via the social networking site Bebo, she was informed that girls from other schools were coming to burn their house down.
Then she experienced herself what her daughter had been suffering: The girls allegedly threatened her that they were going to “F her up and also bring our mum”
Until now the school had dealt with the problem by keeping Hadlin alone and separated from her class. Her mother says that for most of the day she’s in the deputy principal’s office, she can’t go to the classes because they’re afraid that the bullies will hurt her.
Doesn’t it sound as if the school may be afraid of these bullies as much as Hadlin and her mother are? Rather than excluding the perpetrators from the school it is their victim who effectively receives the punishment by being isolated from the normal school environment.
Meanwhile the girls are free to bully and intimidate other students. There must be an air of invincibility about them
But even in the office Hadlin isn’t safe. She says that two of the girls came into the room, pushed the teacher out of the way and started swearing and verbally abusing her.
The video shows Hadlin’s bullies bullying someone else – girls locked together in a brawl whilst an adult male tries to separate them.
The report goes on and says that the school deals with bullying through mediation, from which the parents are excluded. This means that the victims have to deal with it on their own and the parents of the abusers aren’t cognisant of their children’s behaviour.
In an interview with the mother of one of the people who used to bully Hadlin she says that she thinks the school is hiding the problem and the school hadn’t told her her daughter was being a bully. When she found out she spoke to her child, the next day she apologised to Hadlin and they’ve been good friends ever since. Unfortunately Hadlin still has around ten more girls who still victimise her.
The principle, Greg Watson, declined to be interviewed by the show but issued a statement saying that the school was dealing with a small group of 14 year old girls, one of whom had been stood down for two days and two others have a Saturday detention this weekend, and all their the parents have been informed.
Hadlin just wants her school to be safe, where the teachers can protect her. Where she can walk freely around school and do her work. It shouldn’t have to take the intervention of a TV show for her to get something that children are entitled to by right.
How differently would her plight have been handled if she and her parents had the right to sue for emotional and physical trauma? This course of action is not available to them in New Zealand.
The report said that there weren’t many statistics for bullying in New Zealand schools, we find that hard to believe. New Zealand has scored second worst in the world for bullying in schools and the bullying in its schools reflects a wider culture of brutality that exists within the population.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence out there if you know where to look. Try clicking on our bullying in schools tag.
For further reading about New Zealand’s culture of bullying and violence click here, or click on some of those stories below. For our Stats and Facts page relating to Children’s issues and Education in New Zealand click here:
Have you experienced bullying in New Zealand, how was it dealt with and what was the outcome? Leave your comments.
You may also be interested in our other blog posts
Social issues in the wider community
Bullying and violence in schools affecting adults and children
NZ Scores Second Worst in the World For Bullying in Schools“School Bullying Reflects `Culture Of Brutality’”– “New Zealand’s poor ranking in relation to primary school bullying in an international league table is a reflection of a “culture of brutality”, United Future leader Peter Dunne says.”
New Zealand’s Next Top Model Bullied At School, But At Least She’s Not Pregnant / In Prison – “I used to get punched a lot by the other Maori kids. It was constant name-calling, like `you’re ugly, you’re never going to do anything in your entire life’.”
Fairfield College Parents Angry At School Bullying – parents removed children from school
Migrant Tales – A Better Life For The Kids – “our kids have been traumatised by the abuse they suffered at a local school: our eldest daughter was being regularly bullied at school…”