Wakatipu High School students switch to correspondence over bullying claims

Slapping, violent threats on social media and broken belongings.

That is some of the bullying two former Wakatipu High School students in Queenstown have endured nearly every day since they started school, their mothers claim.

The two young girls, aged 13 and 14, are from separate families and have since left the school and enrolled in Correspondence School Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura).

The school says it take all allegations of bullying seriously and has a comprehensive policy to deal with such incidents.

One mother told the Herald the bullying has been going on for months on end.

“There’s been so many things. Following them around, calling names and yelling things. Vicious hurtful names that you don’t even want to repeat.

“I had to replace a laptop earlier this year because somebody had kicked her bag and never owned up to it.”

She alleges her daughter was also slapped across the face by a male student.

“There was CCTV of it and this was by a boy that two days prior had been telling my daughter how much everyone hates her and how much of a slut she was.

“Then he slapped her across the face and the school turned around and said, ‘Oh he is just being playful’. How can you claim someone who is saying they hate her and calling her names is being playful with her?”

The mother said it appears the bullying came from the same group of children each time.

“It’s moved on past the girls as well. I took my youngest out to McDonald’s the other day and they [the group] were talking to me and asking me, ‘Oh are you [girl’s name] mum’?

“It got to the point where my 10-year-old was hiding around the corner because she was so scared of them.”

The mothers learned their daughters were experiencing bullying by the same group by chance, she said.

“We both thought it was just our daughter and felt ashamed that we had made the decision ourselves to take them out of school, and now we are confident that if it has happened with two of them there must currently be, or will be, more.”

Both mothers have met separately with the school but no solution was reached and so they have decided to unenroll their daughters, she said.

“The most discipline given out seems to have been a two-day suspension.

“It may ease off for a couple of days at best but when one child gets disciplined for their actions another one just steps up and takes their place,” she said.

Wakatipu High School principal Steve Hall told the Herald he was disappointed to hear of the allegations.

“There are times when people aren’t doing the right thing but we want people to feel safe here.”

He said there were a number of people students could speak to if they were having issues at the school.

“We take all allegations of bullying seriously and have a comprehensive policy to deal with them which can range from restorative to disciplinary.

“A two-day stand down is a serious thing in terms of what is used by schools.”

Hall said he was not aware of the specific case and the mothers may have met with other staff at the school.

“I would be really keen to hear from them if they are interested in that.

“At the centre of this needs to be the young people and what’s best for them,” he said.

The mother told the Herald it’s too little too late.

“The school knew all too well what was going on and if there was a lack of communication between the ranks there then that’s something that’s too late for us to do anything about.

“If it had been escalated the first one or two times it would be different.”

She said her daughter has missed six weeks of school while waiting to begin at Te Kura and the bullying still has not stopped.

It has led to both girls now being afraid when leaving the house, she said.

“Our daughters will not leave the house.

“Mine is afraid to go out. She’ll go out with me or if there are a couple of other people with her, but the other girl won’t even leave the house with her mum after school hours.

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