Chil­dren ter­rorised but cops, school do noth­ing

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SHAIN GER­MANER shain.ger­

HER TWO chil­dren had been ter­rorised at school for months, but a school­ground fight filmed on a cell­phone de­cided it for Chantelle Stri­j­dom*.

Stri­j­dom first saw a video in June of her 15-year-old daugh­ter Anelle* be­ing at­tacked by an older girl at Hoërskool Elspark in Ekurhu­leni.

The video shows the ag­gres­sor ap­proach­ing Anelle, pok­ing her in the fore­head and push­ing her. When Anelle tries to walk away, the girl smacks her on the back of the head, turns her around and be­gins punch­ing her in the face while other pupils laugh and film the in­ci­dent on their cell­phones.

The ver­bal bul­ly­ing had al­legedly al­ready been go­ing on for some time, but the fight was the last straw for Stri­j­dom, who opened an as­sault case at Elspark po­lice sta­tion.

In her state­ment, Stri­j­dom de­scribes how, when she ar­rived at the school on the day of the fight, none of the teach­ers had as­sisted her badly bruised daugh­ter.

A teacher had al­legedly told Anelle that she had been beaten up for spread­ing sto­ries. And the teacher al­legedly re­fused to lis­ten to what had hap­pened.

Stri­j­dom was al­legedly re­fused a meet­ing with the vice-prin­ci­pal, while another teacher claimed Anelle had thrown the first punch.

When the con­cerned mother got the video footage the next day, she saw this was not the case.

She also re­ceived a sim­i­lar video that shows Stri­j­dom’s son Jan* also be­ing filmed as another boy walks up to him and throws a punch.

The sig­nif­i­cantly shorter clip first shows three boys wait­ing for their tar­get, with one even­tu­ally pushed for­ward and at­tack­ing the 16-year-old, who tries to fight back.

After be­ing told by the school’s staff that they could do noth­ing to help the two teenagers, Stri­j­dom ap­proached the po­lice and the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, hand­ing over the videos.

A meet­ing was fa­cil­i­tated be­tween the prin­ci­pal, Stri­j­dom and her daugh­ter.

Stri­j­dom said she was asked at the meet­ing to with­draw the as­sault case against the other pupil be­cause “it was mak­ing the school look bad”.

The school’s re­port still re­flected that Anelle had hit first, but Stri­j­dom showed them the footage to prove her daugh­ter’s in­no­cence.

How­ever, after the meet­ing, the school al­legedly did not hand out any pun­ish­ments, and the bul­ly­ing con­tin­ued.

On Novem­ber 11, Jan was re­port­edly at­tacked again, and his mother was once again told that the school could do noth­ing and that she should rather go to the po­lice.

After open­ing another as­sault docket, Stri­j­dom re­alised the po­lice were not in­ter­ested in set­tling school­yard mat­ters.

Last Tues­day, Anelle was al­legedly at­tacked again by the same girl as be­fore. Stri­j­dom ar­rived at the school to see her daugh­ter with a black eye and a split lip.

Stri­j­dom in­sisted on speak­ing to the vice-prin­ci­pal, who had ap­par­ently sum­moned the al­leged bully and her friends to the of­fice to ex­plain them­selves.

Ac­cord­ing to Stri­j­dom, the teenage girls be­gan threat­en­ing her, while the vice-prin­ci­pal did noth­ing.

When Stri­j­dom walked out of the meet­ing in dis­gust, the girls al­legedly ran after her, scream­ing that “they did not want her rub­bish fam­ily in the school”.

After be­ing ig­nored by the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors, who didn’t see the mat­ter as se­ri­ous enough to war­rant an ar­rest, and be­ing re­fused help from the school, Stri­j­dom ap­proached The Star.

She said her chil­dren didn’t want to at­tend school any­more, and the bul­ly­ing, com­bined with the death of their brother in the past year, had left the two chil­dren in a state of de­pres­sion.

It was only after The Star con­tacted the Gaut­eng Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion that it was re­vealed that the school was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“The depart­ment strongly con­demns any form of vi­o­lence in schools, and cases re­ported are pri­ori­tised and swiftly dealt with,” said spokes­woman Phumla Sekho­nyane.

She also re­vealed that dis­trict of­fi­cials had vis­ited the school on Fri­day to in­ves­ti­gate.

She said a full re­port on vi­o­lence at the school would be avail­able soon. *Not their real names

The videos can­not be pub­lished to pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of the mi­nors in­volved.

SCHOOL­YARD VI­O­LENCE: Video clips show Anelle and Jan be­ing bul­lied at Hoërskool Elspark in Ekurhu­leni, while other pupils watch and record it on their cell­phones.

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