By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
A disabled teenager from Perth, who has spent years back and forth from hospital battling an enduring health condition, has had his pelvis shattered in an alleged schoolyard bullying assault by a fellow student.
On 10 June 2020, the 14-year-old boy was attacked on the premises of Kent Street Senior High School in Victoria Park in a bullying incident that saw him placed in a headlock by another student then being knocked to the ground.
The impact to his pelvis was so severe that he was left unable to walk.
The boy, whose parents requested his name not be disclosed, was rushed to Perth Children’s Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.
In fact, so brutal was the damage that doctors were forced to begin operating as his parents raced to the hospital from their residence north of Perth.
As it is, the boy currently lives with peroneal muscular atrophy – a condition which causes poor muscle strength and means he appears to walk on his tiptoes.
Now, doctors are advising the injuries the teen sustained are so serious that he may not be able to walk for months, and more worryingly, that he may not ever make a full recovery.
Police Charge 15-Year-Old Boy with Common Assault Over Bullying Incident
Police have charged a 15-year-old boy with common assault over the bullying attack.
He has also been charged with causing grievous bodily harm.
The attack is believed to have occurred while the disabled teenager was on his way to student services to raise concerns over fears he had regarding his safety.
The boy had recently become a boarding student at the school, moving away from his parents who live over 10 hours away in Shark Bay.
The incident will now be dealt with before Perth Children’s Court where the offender is due to appear on June 25.
Another student has since also been questioned over the attack and released pending further investigation.
Mother of Disabled Teen Says Son Had Been Bullied in the Past Over His Appearance
Since the horrifying ordeal, the victim’s mother has spoken out over the incident, making known her son had previously been bullied due to his appearance and describing the phone call she received from the hospital as a “parent’s worst nightmare”.
“I was completely heartbroken and terrified that I couldn’t be there with him. I think it is a parent’s worst nightmare,” she told 7News.
“He already has a hard enough time with his disability, and to have this on top of it is just heartbreaking. The injuries he has from this… we are not sure if he is going to even get back to the way he was before.”
Devastated, the mother also conveyed her son is really embarrassed about what has allegedly happened to him.
She said he has many mental scars over the attack and does not want to go back anywhere near where the assault transpired.
Moreover, she uttered fears that the confrontation has set her son back and it will be a long time before he gets over it.
Meanwhile, addressing the assault, Education Department deputy director Stephen Baxter said all allegations of violence were treated very seriously and Kent Street Senior High School has been assisting police with their investigation.
He also affirmed that the Education Department supports schools entirely to take a tough stance on violence, while any student who physically assaults another should be suspended or moved.
“Violence is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Every child should feel safe and supported when they are at school,” Mr Baxter said.
Bullying and Harassment of Students with Disabilities
Bullying behaviour is a serious problem among school-age children and adolescents.
The consequences of bullying are far-reaching – such harassment is shown to have both short- and long-term effects not merely on the individual who is bullied, but also the individual who bullies and the bystanders present during the bullying event.
Nevertheless, when it comes to students with disabilities, research shows that compared to their non-disabled peers, they are two to three times more likely to be bullied.
Indeed, the majority of students with disabilities already address unique challenges in school.
When they are then bullied, it can directly impact their ability to learn and grow.
Bullying should not be viewed as a harmless rite of childhood that every person experiences.
Instead, research reveals that it can have highly negative impacts on a child’s access to education, and in turn lead to:
- School avoidance and higher rates of absenteeism
- Drop in grades
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of interest in academic achievement
- Higher drop-out rates
Common assault refers to an assault where either an intentional or reckless act on another person takes place whereby that person is made to either feel fear of immediate and unlawful violence or force.
In fact, this unlawful violence can take place without physical force being actually applied.
Nevertheless, where physical force is applied upon a person, the common assault offence becomes more serious.
In NSW, while common assault is generally considered a less grave offence amongst the range of assault charges, the penalties are still harsh.
As reflected in section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), the maximum penalty you can receive for a common assault offence is two years in jail, or a fine of $5,500, or both.
Section 61 makes clear that whosoever assaults any person, although not occasioning actual bodily harm, is guilty of an offence of common assault.