The leadership of Bega High School have asked the school community to share in the responsibility of ensuring the safety and well-being of all.
In a letter addressed to parents and carers and given to students to take home today, Principal Linda Thurston said, “In moving forward from this incident I request the support and consideration of students, staff, and the entire school community to think and talk about the values that are important to us and ways we can all ensure the safety and well-being of others at school.”
The incident Mrs Thurston points to has made national headlines after a female student in year 7 was kicked, thrown around, and beaten by another 13-year-old girl in a stairwell at the school.
The heartless, vicious assault was filmed and uploaded to social media and broadcast on television and shows one student trying to intervene unsuccessfully.
The injured girl was taken to South East Regional Hospital with injuries to her face and later reported the incident to police with the support of her mum.
The alleged perpetrator was later arrested at Bega Police Station and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and stalk/intimidate with intent to cause fear/physical harm. The 13-year-old was granted conditional bail and will appear before the children’s court in mid-July.
In today’s statement, Mrs Thurston said, “Bega High School, other NSW public schools, and the Department do not accept violence, bullying or other forms of inappropriate behaviour.”
“Staff responded immediately and appropriately when they became aware of an incident taking place. Police are involved and the school is cooperating with their investigations.
“Students involved in the altercation are being dealt with through the school’s disciplinary code. The student subjected to inappropriate behaviour is being fully supported by the school.
“The school and the Department deem any person/s to be rebroadcasting footage of the incident are not considering the best interests of any of the students involved,” Mrs Thurston said.
A recess time rally called by students to highlight the broader issue of bullying and their concerns appears to have been called off. A whole school assembly was held and it seems senior students have met with teachers.
“We applaud the initiative our senior students have taken to ensure that the student body is heard,” the Principal said.
“At the assembly, student leaders spoke of how they will continue to work with both executive and teaching staff on this important issue.”
On social media, this afternoon School Captain Ebony Beetson said, “We are working closely with the school to plan and coordinate ways to address the issue of bullying and abuse. This will allow us, the students and faculties to be involved in a unified action against bullying.
“We would appreciate it if the media could stop all contact with anyone involved in the rally.”
When students return to school next week, Mrs Thurston is asking that privacy is respected, kindness and compassion be valued, and that problems and concerns are reported to teachers.
But above all, her message points to the community of influences that can shape a young person’s life and behaviour; school and teachers are just one.
What I hear from the principal is a call to action, an acceptance of the responsibility and ability we all have to change a moment in time and change a life – as overwhelming as that might feel.