11yo bullying victim kept home from Orewa College after assault

Her family says she was kept in the same classroom as her attacker for six hours a day.
Her family says she was kept in the same classroom as her attacker for six hours a day. Photo credit: Google maps

An 11-year-old girl is being kept home from school due to mental health issues following a number of alleged bullying incidents at Auckland's Orewa College.

The year seven student's mother, who wants to be known only as Karlie, claims her daughter suffered a significant breakdown after she was punched in the head with a closed fist and shoved into a wall by a male classmate.

Karlie explained that her daughter was a confident girl in primary school, but her behaviour dramatically changed after starting at the college.

"Since starting at OC she has just progressively got depressed, anxious and emotional," she told Newshub.

The Hibiscus Coast woman said the alleged bullying began not long after the school year started, when her child was called vicious names and made to feel bad about her family.

Comments from one particular girl were about Karlie's daughter "being poor" and included saying that her dad doesn't love her because he has another family from a new relationship.

"She's had rumours circulating that she's a 'sl*t' and a 'w***e' - she had to ask me what these words meant as she had no idea," Karlie said.

When the girl was allegedly assaulted by another student, Karlie took her daughter out of school until the school had a plan to keep her safe.

"It ended in the punch to the head and now she's off school with a medical certificate for her mental health."

She pulled her daughter out of school after staff told her neither she nor the boy needed to be moved to another classroom.

The mother-of-four now believes the school has let down her daughter and not fulfilled their duty of care to provide a safe environment for her.

"They didn't think to consider the psychological effects of sending an 11-year-old girl back into the same room as her attacker for six hours a day.

"They questioned her as if she had brought it upon herself and when faced with the actual seriousness of it they didn't change the discipline at all.

"Her one request was for the boy to be moved so she would have a safe and calm learning space while at school."

Karlie is now seeking an apology from the school, addressed to her daughter, so they can move forward and is calling for the college's bullying procedures to be reviewed.

"I feel everyone would benefit from a step-by-step guide on what to do, first step being keeping the victim and the attacker separate while it's investigated."

In a letter to the Board of Trustees, Karlie outlined the bullying in detail and asked for the school to take steps for it to never happen again. 

Orewa College Principal Kate Shevland acknowledged the school had received a complaint about the incident, which the college was treating "seriously and confidentially".

"We consider all information available prior to making decisions on consequences for student behaviour.  This information may be sensitive and private and is not shared with all parties. 

"We do not comment publicly on individual cases as it would be irresponsible and unfair to do so. 

"Information on schools and their protocols can be seen on their websites and their latest ERO report both of which are public information."