Student Bullied with Screwdriver. He was told he would be stabbed with a screwdriver. He was beaten up in the playground until his mouth bled. He was the target of a callous, systematic bullying tirade that still torments him today.
The sister of a former Matthew Flinders Anglican College Year 9 student spoke out yesterday about the horror her brother faced at school, which eventually led to his parents cancelling his enrolment. She wished to remain anonymous to protect her brother, who is undergoing psychiatric treatment. The girl said that although the bullying was reported to the Buderim college on numerous occasions, no action was taken and the harassment continued.
“It started off as verbal bullying. A group of boys just decided to pick on my brother for no apparent reason and it escalated,” the boy’s sister said. “At first they’d steal things from his locker. Then they started hitting him and they burned him with deodorant. “The worst thing, though, was the screwdriver.”
Over a period of months one of the bullies kept a screwdriver in his pencil case, with which he threatened to stab and kill the boy. Fed up with the continued attacks on their son, the boy’s parents approached the college numerous times to remedy the situation. However, it only got worse.“ Last year it got so bad he had to leave part way through the year,” the boy’s sister said.
“He was really depressed and traumatised by the whole thing. “It is time for schools and teachers to stop tolerating violent behaviour at school.”
Matthew Flinders principal Anthony Vincent would not comment on the allegations “to protect the families concerned”. He said the college cared for each child and reviewed its anti-bullying policy annually. “The college stresses that all allegations of bullying – which are rare – are taken seriously, and as such, thoroughly investigated and dealt with in accordance with the college’s anti-bullying policy,” Mr Vincent said.
The college’s anti-bullying policy states that bullying or harassment in any form is not tolerated at the school and “all members of our community are committed to ensuring a safe and supportive environment which promotes personal growth and fosters positive self-esteem for all”. According to the policy, four steps are involved in dealing with bullying. The first is the Pikas method of shared concern, which involves an interview with the victim and the bully, who is “requested to respect the rights of others”. No blame is attributed at this stage. The second step is case management, where an “action plan” is implemented and monitored. Third is “restorative justice”, in which a meeting may be organised between parents of all students involved and the students themselves. The bully must “analyse his or her actions and convince the group that they recognise their actions are unacceptable”. Finally, punitive consequences may be enforced as a last resort and “in cases of severe or repeated infringement of another’s rights, a student maybe suspended”. Mr Vincent declined to comment on whether any students had been punished.
Bullying costs us all in the long run
The costs of schoolyard bullying are not only high for the victims.
If legal action is taken, it can be costly for educational institutions.
Last year Sippy Downs man Russell Garrand, 23, won an out-of-court settlement after suing the State Government for post-traumatic stress.
The amount Mr Garrand was awarded was not disclosed but was “significant”.
Mr Garrand’s claim related to the five years of schoolyard bullying he experienced at three state schools in Brisbane.
He was verbally abused every day, stabbed in the back with a sharp object, constantly spat on, locked in toilets and held down and punched on an almost daily basis.
Gavin Mills, a lawyer from Attwood Marshall, represented Mr Garrand.
Yesterday Mr Mills said schools had a duty of care to implement and enforce anti-bullying policy.
“There needs to be consequences for the bullies and adequate support for their victims,” Mr Mills said. “I expect that in the future retrospective legal claims arising from people who were bullied at school will greatly increase. “People are becoming much more aware of their rights.”
Mr Mills said in the case of a child, legal action could be taken up until the victim turned 21.
For adults, legal action could be taken up to three years after the bullying occurred or diagnosis, if the bullying manifested in health problems such as depression or posttraumatic stress disorder.