‘Cords wrapped around her neck’
A SIX-YEAR-OLD girl has been attacked with a stick and had cords tied around her neck in a series of violent incidents, a distressed parent has claimed.
Lee* says his young daughter, Isabelle, is now fearful of attending Mount Gambier North Primary School, in rural South Australia, because of the alleged bullying.
"My daughter used to love going to school and now every morning she is in tears and trying to get her to school is difficult because understandably she is frightened," Lee said.
"She's had hands on her throat, cords wrapped around her neck, been slapped in the face, classrooms have been locked down at the school, so there are a lot of problems."
Lee says the first weeks back at school for his daughter have been very difficult and, today, he has taken the step of temporarily removing her from the school - until the problem is solved.
The concerned parent says Isabelle was in tears every morning and her "anxiety levels are going through the roof".
"Upon returning to school this year she has been placed in the same classroom as one of her attackers," he said.
He alleges that this child pushed his daughter to the ground, jumped on top of her and placed his hands around her neck.
Last week, Lee claims another of his daughter's alleged attackers, who is said to have attacked her with a stick in 2015, has been moved into the same class as her.
In December, Lee says he saw what his daughter was going through first-hand.
"I was having trouble getting my daughter to school, I finally got her there at 10am and the classroom door was locked," said Lee. "One student had been locked-in and another was carrying on."
Now, Lee is calling for extra funding, which he claims the school desperately needs. But, he says the impact on his daughter's life has been huge.
"She has trouble going to sleep, she sleeps with us and you just wonder how it is impacting on her at such a young age," he said.
"You ask yourself questions like 'is she experiencing post-traumatic stress and how is this behaviour going to affect her later in life?'"
He added that it was time the SA government took notice of rural locations.
"It is the only school in the area that deals with special needs children and appears to get most of the problem children in the area as no other school wants to help them or can't help them," he said.
The school referred a request for comment to Limestone Coast education director Adam Box, who told local media he was aware of the complex behaviours and needs of students and staff at the school - and, that the department is working to address it.
"Behaviour management is a fundamental part of teaching and the department has invested a significant amount into intervention measures to help schools manage student behaviour," Mr Box told The Border Watch.
"When there are very serious or repeated incidents, our priority is to support and educate the child to improve their behaviour while protecting the rights of the wider school community."
He added that there were steps being taken to assist schools in dealing with student behaviour, including an investment of $1.8m into student wellbeing initiatives to support pre-school and primary students most at risk of disengagement.
Bullying has once again been thrust into the national spotlight after a 14-year-old Northern Territory girl Amy Jayne Everett, affectionately known as Dolly, took her own life on January 3. Her parents launched a #StopBullyingNow campaign in response.
Since then, parents across the country have been speaking out about bullying in their communities and some have called for political action to be taken.
One parent has now collected more than 200,000 signatures on an online petition to have anonymous messaging apps, such as Sarahah, banned in Australia.
*The family's surname has been withheld at their request.