Bully Boys

Reporter: Graeme Butler

Shocking scenes, a group of schoolboys teasing, tormenting a classmate...it's hard to believe this could happen in Australia, in this day and age. David price is the district education officer for the school at the centre of what's being described as one the worst cases of school bullying in Australia. "I've worked in education for about 30 years and they would be some of the most unusual and distressing allegations I've heard in that time"

It's alleged the 13 year old victim was dragged from school into nearby bushland by a gang of five year 8 boys.. the bullies hung him in a tree by the back of his underpants, they did many, many other things, which we wont detail here, but they include making him crawl like a dog, and after six hours of torture, making him lie in a grave that had been dug by one of the boys.

What concerns Rob Fry from the council of state school organisations is while all this was going on - the school and apparently the boys parents knew the teenagers were absent from class, the parents had been notified by text message to a mobile phone. "I'm very concerned if the text messages are going out and the parents are not responding I think the first thing I'd be doing is ringing the school to find out if there's any more detail they can assist me with and I would expect that of any normal parent to be following up with the school and then going looking for their child."

According to Dr Dot Lenthal most school bullying is far less physical than this attack but the effects are just as damaging. "The physical bullying is physical and in some ways is probably the easiest to deal with because it's so visible the difficult bullying to deal with is the invisible which is exclusion spreading rumours damaging someone's reputation that sort of thing" and when it comes to bullying girls are just as bad as boys - particularly with text and computer messaging. Technology has become a recent issue with bullying messaging on the computers and mobile phones and so on and of course it can be sent world wide if somebody really want to do some damage it can be very dangerous.

"I didn't want to go to school ever like I used to love school and stuff but I didn't want to go anymore I stopped catching the bus to school I took so much time off school and didn't apply myself so I think now I'm struggling more" Amy suffered years of bullying... she's now moved schools. She's typical of girls her age who become the victims of bullying by so-called friends.

Amy's mum Pam says she didn't know how to deal with the bullying and felt the school didn't either. It's a common problem - what do parents do if they're child is being bullied - Dot Lenthal has written a book for parents but says schools have a lot to learn. "I think listening is the biggest thing but also to reassure them that you're not going to march off to the school and create a massive explosion and make things worse for them that you'll talk it through together and decide with your' child what you thing you should do from there on"

But for parents half the battle is just finding out what's going on, many bullied kids are reluctant to tell their parents, so parents need to be alert to the warning signs. "There's a list of symptoms really they start to get a bit ratty not sleeping and you've just said they don't want to go to school those sorts of things and change in your child's normal nature alerts most parents in any case they know something is wrong in my book I outline what you should do and I think the main thing is to stay calm"

Book Details

"don't just stand there" by Dr Dorothy Lenthall is available at selected Dymocks - Angus and Robertson Bookstores or by ordering through the website

RRP $19.95