School denies bullying following attack

01:07, Mar 28 2014
Noah Coffin
BULLRUSH BASHING: Noah Coffin, 12, swollen and bruised after the attack.

Another schoolyard assault has been revealed at a Porirua high school where a student suffered a suspected broken neck when he was thrown down a bank.

Joseph Nawl, 15, ended up in Wellington Hospital after the incident at Bishop Viard College earlier this month. It turned out that his neck was not broken, but he and his sister have since left the school.

Now it has emerged that a 12-year-old student had suspected concussion, a bruised and swollen face, a gouged eye and cuts after a game of lunchtime bullrush turned into an attack.

Trina Coffin, mother of year 8 student Noah Coffin, said she was now worried about the safety of other students and insisted the school take action. She planned to move Noah and his brother to another school at the end of term.

The school has responded by banning bullrush, and has asked staff to be extra vigilant about what games students are playing.

Noah was playing bullrush with year 7 and 8 students on February 12 when he tackled a classmate, who proceeded to kick and punch him repeatedly.


Several other students joined in and the attack was broken up by teachers and principal Teresa Cargo.

Mrs Coffin was contacted at work about the incident and rushed home to find her son swollen and bruised and "very teary about what had happened".

"Recalling the whole thing was quite traumatic and he had trouble remembering details, so I was worried about his head."

She took him to Kenepuru Accident and Medical Clinic in Porirua the next day, and laid a complaint with police.

A Porirua police spokeswoman confirmed officers knew of the complaint and were investigating.

Mrs Coffin said that, when she approached Ms Cargo, the principal "rattled off processes and procedures, which isn't helpful for me or Noah".

The communication between the school and her family had been unacceptable and she was still scared for her children's safety.

"He used to be an outgoing, confident, outspoken kid - but not in a cheeky way. Now he's cautious about what he does and who he talks to. He's changed."

Noah said he had seen other pupils get picked on and hit, but most of the time teachers did not see it or were not told.

His mother said she felt "insulted" that school management would not admit it had a bullying problem, even if the incidents were isolated.

The school said it followed standard procedures and was open to input from parents on what was best for their children.

"This particular incident was not bullying - it was a reaction to an over-aggressive tackle," Ms Cargo said.

Many parents had contacted the school since the two incidents but maintained they were "happy with the safety of their students and the pastoral care staff provided".

"These two episodes are concerning for the college, and students have been addressed at whole school assemblies . . . and the guidance team will be addressing individual classes."


The teenager who ended up in hospital with a suspected broken neck after being assaulted at Bishop Viard College is starting at a new college next week.

Joseph Nawl, 15, was punched unconscious and thrown down an embankment by a classmate.

Yesterday, Nawl family spokeswoman Ahniang Hlawn Ceu said Joseph and his brother and sister were afraid to go back to school and were in the process of enrolling at Newlands College.

Joseph's father, Khua Kam Thang Nawl, who has lung cancer, had become increasingly weaker and could no longer cope with the stairs in their current home. The family hoped to move to Newlands this weekend.

Ms Ceu said the students involved in the attack had approached the family about coming to the house to see Joseph and apologise.

However, Mr Nawl said the family was not interested as it had been weeks since the incident and no efforts to apologise had been made while his son was in hospital.

Detective Lance Herring, of Porirua, said he had interviewed a 14-year-old this week in relation to the incident. "He admitted uplifting and throwing Joseph down on to a concrete basketball court."

Police Youth Aid would be following up the case.

The Dominion Post