Parents of bullied teens meet with MP

Three families met with Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller recently. File photo.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller has met with the parents of teens bullied at schools around the city.

The meeting comes as a result of a series of bullying incidents reported by parents around the Bay of Plenty.

One mother, who chose to not be named, shared her story with SunLive recently which she says has resonated with many other parents.

She now wants to take a stand on behalf of families in similar situations to hers.

“There's been four articles in the news recently regarding bullying.

“New Zealand has some of the highest rates in the world for school bullying, which is information I have read from BBC, we're even getting attention from over there.

“There has to be a link between these statistics and in others which also show we have some of the highest teenage suicide rates in children aged between 15 and 19 years old.

“There has to be more effort in schools,” she says. “Possibly by our governments reaching out to others to see what they are doing, and what is working there that we can implement here.

“It doesn't mean we're failing, we just need some help.”

The mother has joined alongside two other families of bullied teens, to meet with MP Todd Muller recently.

“I'm hoping that he will listen to the point where he may make an inquiry to see why schools are all following the same direction.

“It seems as though there is this pattern in schools to isolate the victim, not get in contact with the parents and keep it under cover. Why do schools follow that?

“I assume every school has been given a portfolio on how to deal with bullying but why don't they have someone in the schools to specifically deal with the bullies and bullied?

“Counsellors have other issues to deal with, so there needs to be someone there who can deal with those specific issues.”

She says despite the incident, she doesn't believe the school involved is a bad one.

“Just the way they've dealt with this was really wrong.”

She says her child will now be transferred to another school.

“Schools need to bring more awareness around mental health.

“If these children knew more about mental health, wellbeing and about keeping minds well, they might take a bit more ownership about how they act towards other people.

“If they are strong enough in the head, other things will just fall into place.”

Of the families who joined her at the meeting, is a man who wished to only be named as John, who is the grandfather of a bullied teen.

He says his grandson became involved in an incident where bullies at Tauranga Boys' College held him down and shot him with a BB gun.

“My grandson was set upon by the group of boys and was forced onto the ground and held down.

“A boy then produced a pistol, which we later found out was a BB gun, and shot him in the leg. There was no penetration just bruising.

“The school was not aware the incident had happened nor did my grandson tell anyone not even his mother.

“It came to light later when the incident was published on Facebook with a picture of my grandson crying.”

He says his grandson, who suffers Asperger syndrome, did not inform the school or his family about the incident out of fear.

“The school were then told and they apparently took the boys before the Board of Governors and the boys were warned about their future behaviour, short of expelling them, this was all they were able to do.”

He says the incident was also presented before the police more than a month ago. They are still waiting for an outcome.

 “I'm hoping to get answers to the problem of bullying,” says John. “We have the second highest bullying statistics in the OECD.

 “The problem with schools is that instead of involving the community and letting them know what's going on, they keep it to themselves.”

 In a letter, sent by TBC principal Robert Mangan to parents of the school, he has responded to the incident.

 “I feel compelled to assure our wider community that bullying is totally unacceptable at Tauranga Boys' College and that the college works hard to create a culture of respect and support for all students,” he says.

"This was a plastic toy, readily available in local toy shops, not a firearm, the boy who fired it had harmlessly shot both himself and his friend with prior.

"However, we took the impact on the victim seriously. 

 “I applied the most significant disciplinary action available to me, suspending the two 13 year olds to meet the Board of Trustees Disciplinary Committee, a group of three elected parent representatives, to decide if the boys should remain at Tauranga Boys' College - two 13 year olds for whom this behaviour was out of character.

 “The Board of Trustees decided the two boys could return to the college under strict conditions, confident they had gained a significant lesson and clearly understood the impact of their actions on the victim and assurance that behaviour such as this would not be repeated.

 “As a college we treated the situation with the utmost seriousness.”

 He says the school launched a full disciplinary investigation, alongside close communication with Police and the victim's family.

 “It is very disappointing that the family of the victim do not feel supported by the college, and we understand how upsetting it is for families when loved ones are involved.  We will continue to do our utmost to support all the boys in our care.

“Sadly, the reality is that bullying exists in our society and society is reflected in all of our schools, no more the domain of primary, intermediate or secondary, single-sex or co-educational schools.

“All schools work hard to address these societal issues.”

Due to a longstanding policy of confidentially, Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller wasn't able to share specific details from the meeting, but says he agrees the larger societal issue of bullying is significant.

“It's quite personal for me,” he says. “When I was a young fella, at Tauranga Boys, I had a bullying experience and the school handled it well back then.

“It was a different world back then, while some of my class mates and people on my bus knew about it, it wasn't instantly posted and commented on across the entire social media. I really get a sense of the challenges and difficulties for families and parents who have to deal with this.

“There's no excuse for it, kids should be able to go to school and feel comfortable in that environment.

“Education is so critical and students need to feel safe. If they don't, we need to be very honest in what we need to improve.

“If that means we need to improve our guidelines, or ask more of our schools then so be it,” he says. I have pretty regular contact with most the local school principals so I'm going to connect with them just to get their perspective, just how prevalent the situation is, whether they're happy with the guidelines the ministry of education and whether they could be strengthened.

“We need a sense of what we can do better, because it doesn't feel like it's where we should be.”



7 Comments

What is the world coming to?

Posted on 08-11-2017 00:28 | By GreertonBoy

I dont remember a single day I went to school and didn't get bullied? Schools have bullies, always have and always will. I went to tga intermediate, then TBC and if it wasnt other students bullying me (and others) it was the teachers... that is just how it was, especially if one happened to be the 'fat kid' like me.... children need to be taught not to let bullies affect them, unless physical of course... but the world is full of mean people and no one can legislate or make rules to stop mean people being mean. The 'victim' needs to not react and the bully will get bored and move to a more gullible victim. Reacting, either by temper or 'reporting' the bully is still 'a result' to the bully... best to not let them see they bother you. Sticks and stones....

Schools dont handle or hope it will go away

Posted on 07-11-2017 10:32 | By lpm67

We've dealt with this issue before, found that our complaints to the school were not taken seriously and werent even recorded when informed. We know that because after several of us parents approached the police regarding an incident requiring hospital treatment for the victims the police went and spoke to the school and requested to see copies of the 12 complaints (that we knew about) and the school didnt have any including the one where the school called an ambulance. Its not good enough and it does serious long term harm to the victims.

The buck stops...

Posted on 06-11-2017 19:52 | By morepork

...with the Head of the school, who is responsible for the "culture" of the school. It is exactly the same as in industry. The Head sets guidelines as to what the school should aspire to. (A "Mission Statement" if you like...) And the staff buy in and pass this on to Senior students and Classes. The students should be encouraged to discuss (as a Class) what they think and what they want. In this way, Classes decide what is socially acceptable, and stronger students can protect weaker kids from bullying. Eventually, there are no more bullying "opportunities". Kids who have a sense of ethical values will not support bullying. That's why projects like KidsCan and FYD are so successful. It is about developing a sense of civic duty, ethics, and common sense.

@ Capt_Kaveman

Posted on 06-11-2017 17:51 | By laugeo

I'm impressed! You clearly have intimate knowledge of all of the other local schools, their processes, protocols and track records of dealing with the issue of bullying in all its forms? Otherwise of course, yours would simply be an uninformed opinion. Bullying you see, is a societal issue and not solely a school issue. Schools are simply a cross section of the society that attend them and in my opinion, schools do an exceptional job of educating on the subject of bullying within the constraints laid down by that same society and the ministry of education guidelines that they have to follow. I'm only speculating but do you experience the feeling of 'bliss' often?

Bullying is completely unacceptable.

Posted on 06-11-2017 13:49 | By Chapsmate

Bullying is completely unacceptable.Your child should be encouraged to discuss this witha aparent or close family member.Your child should be encouraged to discuss this with a teacher or guidance counsellor in the first instance, who will go with the student to the appropriate authority figure in the school, ~ or even the police.The bully must not be permitted to continue this behaviour on other weak individuals.The society as a whole is at risk.Thankyou Todd for your sensitive support of these children.

The only

Posted on 06-11-2017 13:01 | By Capt_Kaveman

College i support is Papamoa the rest need a good shakeup

Some schools

Posted on 06-11-2017 11:36 | By MISS ADVENTURE

Dont do anything about it, that is what happens in a stupid PC world

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