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Bullied girl, 13, punished for having knife at school

Principal of Blackburn and Associates Jack Blackburn represents the family of a school bullying victim who was suspended by a high school,
Principal of Blackburn and Associates Jack Blackburn represents the family of a school bullying victim who was suspended by a high school, Lisa Benoit

SHE is only 13, has a learning disability and hasn't hurt anyone, but that didn't stop a Rockhampton high school from saying she planned to murder a classroom bully.

Yesterday Jack Blackburn, the lawyer representing the girl's family, told The Morning Bulletin about what he said was an injustice.

Mr Blackburn said the school failed to support a student who had lived in a world of inner-hurt.

He said after enduring months of relentless bullying, the student put a knife in her bag to take to school the next day after her alleged tormentor repeatedly threatened to end her life.

That night she realised it was the wrong thing to do, but forgot to remove the knife the following morning.

When she got to school and saw the knife in her bag, Mr Blackburn said she handed it to her teacher.

The girl had also drawn an illustration of how she thought displaying the knife would stop her tormentor's abuse.

She also handed this to the teacher.

Mr Blackburn said this spurred the school to put her on a 10-day suspension, place her on a behavioural plan and mark a "plan to murder another" on her permanent educational record.

The girl's mother said the bully remained unpunished and her daughter continued to be abused after the suspension.

She is part of the school's special education program and was integrated into classes with the rest of the school, where the bullying began.

Mr Blackburn said the school had repeatedly been informed of previous bullying incidents but did nothing outside instructing the child to stop, and failed to make a record to the inner school reporting system.

He said there were times when integrating children with challenges wasn't the right approach.

Now because of his client's violent classroom record, he said it would make it difficult to seek enrolment in another school.

The girl's mother said she did not excuse her daughter's actions but said it was a reflection of her desperation to deal with the harassment.

"It has had a big effect on my daughter and on us, especially what she was labelled as... I had already been reporting this but nothing was done," she said.

"It gets to the extent where she does something that is not of her character."

She said her child no longer trusted teachers and no longer enjoyed her favourite activities.

"She is not the kid she was... my daughter goes from an award student to what they have labelled her as now?

"What happened to the other child? Nothing," she said. "The rules that are in place don't work."

Education Queensland's policy on:

Special Education integration

Queensland state schools deliver a high quality education for students with a disability.

In line with world's best practice, and anti-discrimination legislation, the Department of Education and Training promotes inclusive education.

The Department ensures that all students with a disability are provided with reasonable adjustments and additional support so they can access, participate and succeed in education.

Bullying

Bullying is not tolerated in Queensland state schools.

Every student has the right to learn in a positive, safe and caring environment where they can reach their full potential.

Any situation that threatens the safety and wellbeing of students and teachers is treated seriously, and dealt with as a matter of urgency.

Topics:  bullying, editors picks, education queensland, murder, rockhampton, school, students




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