'She's my world': Bully victim's mother speaks out
A local mother has detailed her daughter's schoolyard experiences with severe harassment as a bullying epidemic shakes the Gympie region.
The woman told The Gympie Times her 13-year-old daughter, while attending Gympie State High School late last year, had been the victim of constant taunts, threats, and a sickening physical assault which left her with multiple facial injuries as well as anxiety and depression.
The woman, who wished to remain anonynmous "for her daughter's protection", said last week's hospitalisation of 12-year-old bullying victim Brian Birchall after the youth attempted suicide was the main reason she decided to come forward.
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"I want the family to know they're not alone in this," she said.
"When I read Murray [Benton]'s post [about Brian] I sobbed for quite a while.
"I feel that if I had spoken up maybe he wouldn't have had this happen.
"When Dolly [Everett] passed away I talked with my daughter and she told me 'I understand why she did it'.
"The kids are feeling alone, like there's no other way for it to stop, because the bullying never ends.
"She's my world, she's our only daughter.
"She's no wallflower, she's a very strong female, and I've had to watch her crumble and have anxiety and sit in the corner and cry and beg to know why they're doing this to her."
The woman said she was "exhausted" by the ordeal, which continued into this school year with the theft of her daughter's school bag.
After pulling her out of Gympie High, the woman applied to re-enrol her daughter at the currently filled James Nash State High School before placing her in a new school.
The woman said sending her back to Gympie High was not an option for her "fearful" daughter.
"Sending her to Gympie High was like saying 'Go and play in traffic and hopefully all the cars miss you and you'll come home okay', she said.
"I told them numerous times my daughter's not safe here, make her safe.
"The principal never spoke with me, I only ever spoke with [Deputy Principal] Sondra Barry.
"He never rang me, even when I kept her out the past three weeks after they stole her bag.
"I honestly think they don't know how to handle this kind of extreme."
The woman's husband and the victim's father said the "lack of support" was the hardest thing for the family to death with.
"It was disappointing when the regional guidance officer rang the school about our daughter and the school officer didn't know who she was talking about," he said.
"Our daughter isn't an angel, but she does the best she can to be the best she can be.
"Watching the tears come into her eyes when her Mum read the stuff about Brian was hard."
Gympie State High School Principal Anthony Lanskey said he couldn't confirm specific information that would put any student at risk of identification, but confirmed that the school had followed due process in this case.
"In general terms, in any of these cases, every time information is presented to the school we deal with it," he said.
"We investigate all matters in accordance with our Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students, and decide on consequences and support networks based on those investigations.
"We're always going to do everything we can to keep our students safe."
If you need help, phone Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, visit www.kidshelpline.com.au, or phone Lifeline on 131114.