Father erects anti-bullying sign after repeated assaults on 9-year-old daughter
A father has erected an anti-bullying sign outside a Christchurch school after his 9-year-old daughter endured years of physical assaults and humiliation.
The man, who cannot be named without identifying his daughter, said staff at Waimairi School did not record or inform him when the girl was punched, kicked, bitten and choked by other students.
He said she spent multiple lunchtimes a week in restorative justice-style meetings with her bullies months after he had asked for them to stop.
On Wednesday morning, he erected a 1.8 metre-high sign outside the school in protest.
"The sad thing is, as big as the sign is, it still wasn't big enough to put the word 'again' enough times to represent the number of assaults my daughter has experienced," he said.
The father said ongoing bullying, which included students trying to pull her underwear down in front of her classmates, turned his "loving and gentle girl" into an angry child who frequently ran away from school.
The problems began more than 18 months ago, he said, with a "random" incident where she was pushed over by a boy and hit her head on the pavement.
They culminated in a March attack where he said the girl was punched 10 times. A doctor's note said she showed "obvious signs of injury" including split lips.
The father said he met with school staff six times to address repeated assaults by two students, but was discouraged by its approach.
His daughter asked to attend one meeting in December.
"She said 'I would just like the girls to stop hitting me'," he said.
"There's nothing proactive, it's all reactive.
"They don't want to own it; it's almost like you're overreacting. I'm tired of hearing again and again 'Mr [withheld] we take this seriously."
Waimairi School board of trustees chairman Cory Bedford said the school was investigating the father's claims but declined to comment further, citing the child's privacy. Other school staff were instructed not to comment.
A letter from the school in November said the man had "legitimate concerns around [his daughter] being bullied on a number of occasions".
It said restorative practices used to address the bullying had a "positive effect" and each assault was noted in the school's student management system.
The Ministry of Education advised schools must provide a "safe physical and emotional environment for students" and investigate allegations of bullying.
The Office of the Children's Commissioner broadly defines bullying as "deliberately harmful behaviour" repeated over a period of time.
The father said he was "gobsmacked" by the number of families who struggled with bullying at school.
"Without fail, every friend or acquaintance that I have related some of [this story] to, they all have this identical facial expression like, are you serious?
"They all know it's bad. Why does my school not get that?"
Among several messages sent to the phone number listed on his sign was one from a Waimairi School parent supporting his stance.
"Because of the school letting my younger daughter be bullied for a whole year with nothing done she now hates school . . . I'm glad I'm not the only parent who feels this way."