Boarders: Bullying ignored

by Kyle

MONDAY 24 NOVEMBER, 2008

A culture of bullying exists at New Plymouth Boys’ High School but hostel staff are turning a blind eye, boarding students allege.

Police are investigating an assault on a Year 12 boarder at the hostel last week that left the victim with two black eyes, a cut to his head that required four stitches, bruises and a sore jaw.

After the story appeared in Saturday’s Taranaki Daily News, other students have contacted the paper with allegations of an ingrained culture of bullying at the school.

The boys, who the Taranaki Daily News agreed not to identify as they were concerned about retaliation, say night-time attacks on boarders by senior students at the school was common, including assaults while they were in bed and beds being flipping over while they slept.

“There are none some weeks, but there could be two or three other weeks.”

Some of the bullying was not reported, but what is has not been dealt with seriously, they claim.

“It is common knowledge in the hostel, but it barely gets a mention outside.”

Two other students were assaulted on the same night of the attack police are investigating, they say.

They allege injuries received during assaults include broken noses, bruising and cuts, with one boarder putting his hand through a window while trying to defend himself.

Reporting the attacks to the police is seen as a no-no.

“It is seen as something you can’t do, because if someone hears that you have gone to the police, you would have to protect yourself even more.”

Depending how the investigation goes into last week’s assault, the students say they would report future attacks to police.

“If nothing changes, then we won’t be.”

Attacks at the hostel have been covered up before, they claim.

Those responsible for the assaults feel they are able to get away with their actions.

“They seem to think: `We haven’t been punished seriously before, so why not do it again?’ ”

They say some boarders are living in fear.

“It is hard to sleep, knowing that it could happen again.”

NPBHS acting principal Bruce Bayly was not home when the Taranaki Daily News rang yesterday.

“I’m sure that you know he won’t comment,” the woman who answered the telephone said.

Board of trustees chairman Jamie Sutherland would not comment when the Taranaki Daily News visited his home.

Senior hostel master Geoff Hall would not comment when telephoned.

Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro said she was aware of the case after reading about it in the media.

Dr Kiro said hostels were covered by hostel regulations and had obligations to keep boarders safe.

She was aware of a long history of hazing in boarding schools, but students had to be able to report bullying to authorities without the fear of intimidation.

Physical and emotional violence was a problem in all schools, and an issue of public concern, she said.

Dr Kiro said a report on violence and bullying in schools was due at the end of February 2009.

-TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

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