Mother denounces school's reaction

FLORENCE KERR
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2014

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The mother of a 5-year-old girl caught up in a sex case involving her classmates, is angered by the school's response.

The Times last week reported allegations that on March 3, the girl was pulled into bushes on the school field by two 5-year-old boys who performed oral sex-like acts on her and got the girl to reciprocate on them.

The woman and her daughter have left Hamilton due to the "stress" that was caused by the alleged incident.

The principal has remained tight-lipped on the situation and the school's board chair said all decisions made regarding the issue, including not telling parents at the school, were decided by the board.

The chair maintained the school was still a "safe place" for the children.

The Ministry of Education's head of sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey, said the ministry was "comfortable" with how the school had handled the situation.

The girl's mother disagreed, saying the principal did not seek help for the children involved, it was the mother's phone call to CYF after her meeting with the school that alerted the government agency to the issue.

"The principal said there had been two or three other incidents that were of the same kind. I felt the principal tried to minimise what had happened, he kept saying the boys won't talk . . . and my daughter wasn't offered any kind of counselling - we were traumatised," the mother said.

She allowed her daughter to try one more day at the school under her supervision but a lunchtime incident involving the young boys yelling out to her daughter to "suck it" contributed to her taking her daughter out of the school.

The school's response has also concerned Whakaruruhau Maori Women's Refuge manager Ronnie Albert, who has supported the mother.

Albert said once she was told, she contacted the principal and asked what he was doing about it and whether there was any counselling available for children.

She said she was told it was an alleged incident and felt "fobbed off".

Albert was also the one that informed the Ministry of Education of the situation at the school.

The mother said CYF acted swiftly, ensuring her daughter and herself received support, and her daughter was on her way to going back to her "vibrant" self.

"When she came home that day [of the incident], it was like she was a zombie."

Child, Youth and Family regional director, Midlands, Sue Critchley said: "We are working with the families to ensure the children are safe and their needs are being met." 

HELP ON HAND

Help the Ministry of Education can provide:

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Specialist teams to work with the children

Advising the school leadership about how to access agencies such as CYF and police

Support for human resources and communications 

- Waikato Times

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