Parents to protest against 'soft on bullying' school

Parents will protest on Friday against bullying at Reremoana School, pictured when the school...
Parents will protest on Friday against bullying at Reremoana School, pictured when the school opened in 2006. File photo NZ Herald
A group of parents plans a picket on Friday outside a South Auckland school which they say is "soft on bullying".

The parents say Reremoana School, a decile-9 primary school in Wattle Downs south of Manurewa, has failed to take effective action against a handful of children who have repeatedly bullied other children.

"Reremoana are soft on bullying, they have no detention policy and prefer to discuss the issues with bullies, whilst children continue to be punched, kicked, thrown to the floor and have bricks thrown at them," protest organiser Marc Guillaume said.

He said the parents would protest outside the school between 8am and 9am on Friday.

"It's just a quiet, peaceful protest where we just get some signs and some parents getting there between 8 and 9am just to say, 'Toughen up on the bullying, stop the bullying'." 

Guillaume said his 10-year-old stepson had been physically bullied by two other boys for the past two and a half years. The latest incident was an attack in a football game yesterday.

"Another parent said their kid had been bullied for four years. They talked to the police, police have attended. They are teaching their kid to fight back just to defend themselves," he said.

"Another parent said their kid had a brick thrown at their leg."

He said his stepson had not been badly injured yet, but had become afraid to go to school.

"He used to love school," he said. "Now he is starting to get withdrawn, doesn't want to go to school, stays in the car till the last minute."

He said the school was not taking effective action against the bullies.

"Apparently they don't do detentions. They seem very reluctant to suspend people or expel them," he said.

"In my opinion they have lost control. The punishment they [bullies] are getting is to walk around with the teacher for two days."

Guillaume said he advised the school of the planned protest on Monday last week, and the school told him on Wednesday that it would arrange a meeting between Guillaume and his wife, the parents of one of the bullies and the police. But that meeting had yet to take place.

School principal Julie Cowan said the school worked very hard "to address issues relating to unkind, mean, unsafe and bullying behaviours".

"Our highest priority is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students," she said.

"Senior staff work carefully through every instance of bullying or anti-social behaviour to understand all perspectives on what has occurred and why.

"As well as taking actions within the school, we then raise concerns directly with families in the hope that the school and family can also work collaboratively to support students and/or address behaviour issues.

"Where concerns have been raised, either within the school or by families or outside agencies, we work through problem solving processes and put in place prevention and monitoring plans."

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