I doubt any school manages to be totally without bullying, unless they manage to be totally without pupils. But despite that limitation, the reports around Howick College seem to be a cause for concern, as reported in the Herald:
Mr Ropati’s comments came after dozens of parents and some students contacted the Herald this week when the father of a Year 9 Howick student said his daughter was being so badly bullied, he was forced to send her to South Africa for school.
If that many went out of their way to contact the Herald, it is hard to not conclude there is a wide-spread problem.
Several parents said their children had also been bullied while at the college, with some saying students had had to change schools because the bullying was so bad.
And if this is the case, it should be picked up in exit interviews.
The woman said her daughter endured “a good full year” of bullying in 2008. She said she was disappointed with college staff, who seemed to dismiss the situation. “We had to talk to the dean, counsellors. The counsellor just said it would suit everybody else if she just left. …
The woman said she and her husband tried several times to meet the principal at the time, but were told the issue was not important enough.
Another parent said a young relative of hers had been bullied so much he flatly refused to go to school.
“The school passed us from one manager to another and to cut a long story short, they essentially threw up their hands, said they had a very big school and couldn’t take on the problems of this child, and encouraged us to send him somewhere else.”
This is the part that causes the most concern. The senior staff were not willing to take action.
Mr Ropati – who became principal in January – said he would encourage the parents who had contacted the Herald to speak to him.
“We may have bullies, we may have bullying behaviour, but all schools are vulnerable.
“And I stress that we do take every bullying case very seriously.
“If that hasn’t happened in the past, then that is out of my control.”
The fact the principal is new, is cause for some optimism that things may improve.