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Thursday, December 3, 2020
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South Africa: Mom of bullied schoolgirl hits back at education department

Carla Coetzee

The mother of a six-year-old girl who’d been bullied at a Cape Town school has hit back at the Western Cape education department over claims they tried to help her daughter.

In an open letter to YOU (27 September), Bianca* wrote about how her daughter, Nellie*, had been emotionally and physically bullied by a classmate.

Bianca said her Grade 1 daughter’s self-esteem had been shattered, and Nellie had even told her she “didn’t want to live anymore”.

Bianca accused the school of not reporting any incidents of bullying to them as parents.

“We only found out about it when another mother phoned me and told me the bully had her hands around my child’s neck,” she said.

She approached the Western Cape education department but says no real solutions were put forward.

The department denied this, saying they had arranged for Nellie to see an educational psychologist and remedial specialist, and that Nellie had been observed during class and breaks. They stated Nellie had also been given sessions with an occupational therapist and trauma specialist at discounted rates.

But Bianca says the department is lying and that they didn’t “go the great lengths to address the situation”.

“They didn’t provide a remedial specialist for the bullying and definitely not twice a week,” Bianca says. “She wasn’t observed during breaks as they claimed.

“They observed her for one break and that is after we requested it after Nellie was booked off due to stress. That break they only observed her for 10 minutes. No occupational therapist or trauma therapist was arranged for Nellie as they claimed,” she adds.

Bianca also claims the bully wasn’t punished according to the school’s code of conduct and only received demerit points.

The department didn’t want to respond in detail to Bianca’s further accusations.

“The department will not comment further on this matter,” said the department’s spokesperson Bronagh Hammond.

“We have provided our version of events and will not comment on he-said/she-said allegations. The department wishes Nellie the best at her new school. It’s unfortunate that the mother continues to try to discredit the department after all the interventions that were put in place to assist her child.”

Nellie has since been removed from the school and is being home-schooled.

*Names have been changed.


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