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An Auckland girl barraged by violent, threatening messages after a flippant online comment was “not treated as the victim” by her school, her mother says.
On Saturday night, three classmates verbally abused the 11-year-old in a spate of vicious cyber bullying. Her mother says the brutal attack stemmed from an earlier social media exchange, in which her daughter retaliated to a mocking comment by one of her bullies.
In a series of horrific voicemails, the three bullies tormented the girl with comments such as: “Shut the f**k up”, “what’s wrong with your eyes”, “piece of s**t”, “go f**k yourself, you idiot”, “third-wheeler”, “you have AIDS you fat ****”, “dumb a**” and “fake friend”.
Mother Leone Vito-Toleafoa says the family is attempting to keep a degree of “normality” in their daughter’s life following the vile messages, which she says shook the family to the core.
The severity of the cyber bullying has led Leone to file a police complaint.
“It’s definitely been difficult on myself, my husband and our family… we’re world’s away from how we were a week ago,” Leone told The AM Show on Wednesday.
“She’s so well-supported and loved by friends and family… the more people encourage her, she becomes empowered and just carries on.”
Although her daughter is coping well after the incident, Leone says her recovery has not been helped by her Auckland intermediate, which The AM Show chose not to name.
“I sent an email, I had maybe over 40 screenshots but I just sent a teaser. The school called me on Monday and said they had my daughter with them and they were going to do a restorative session with her and the three girls – without me there,” Leone explained.
“They said it should only take about 20 minutes… she said over ’90 percent’ of these sessions work. They said they’d review it in two weeks and speak to my daughter and the three girls.”
But the school failed to include the parents in the mediation. Leone believes that she and her husband should have been spoken to face-to-face about the plan going forward. She is uncertain if the parents of the bullies were even contacted.
“My husband and I should have been there… our daughter was in that restorative session alone with the deputy principal and the three bullies.
“I was told by the deputy principal that she didn’t have to call me back and my daughter would tell me if there was a resolution.”
Leone believes her daughter was made to feel like a bully alongside her three classmates.
“The deputy principal said all the girls would get to say what it was that hurt them… my daughter had to take ownership of calling [the bully] ‘short’ and ‘a wrinkle-face’ [in her social media comment] because the bully said that hurt her,” Leone said.
“She told me all the girls had to say sorry to each other… my daughter was not treated as the victim.”
On Monday, Leone filed an incident report with the police. Although she says the police were hesitant to accept her report, she felt “more empathy” from the officer than her daughter’s school.
“I’m concerned about the children who don’t have a voice, who aren’t brave enough to speak up,” she said.
“I really want to encourage parents, Pasifika parents, Maori parents, parents around the country… open up that discussion and create a safe environment for your children, so they know they’re supported, loved and not alone.”
The AM Show contacted the school for comment.
For more information, visit https://www.bullyingfree.nz/.
Where to find help and support:
Shine (domestic violence) – 0508 744 633
Women’s Refuge – 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
Need to Talk? – Call or text 1737
What’s Up – 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Shakti Community Council – 0800 742 584
Published at Tue, 03 Mar 2020 04:00:00 +0000