‘Forced to watch porn’: Private schoolgirl’s bullying hell

Girls at an elite private Catholic school forced other students to watch porn in a range of bullying incidents, causing one teenager to consider suicide, a distraught Queensland mother has claimed.

As thousands of children around the state head back to school this week, 27 per cent say they have been bullied, with many reporting they have been involved in an incident as often as every two weeks.

Experts say the systemic issue in Queensland schools has seen "significant damage" to children, with an entrenched "no dobbing" culture leading to depression, self-harm, anxiety and suicide.

Parents and child psychologists are calling for the government to provide a psychologist for every school along with a range of other preventive measures, as families fear more cases like Dolly Everett's.

St Ursula's College in Toowoomba is defending allegations it did not do enough to resolve repeated bullying of a teenage girl.
St Ursula's College in Toowoomba is defending allegations it did not do enough to resolve repeated bullying of a teenage girl.

St Ursula's College in Toowoomba is defending allegations it did not do enough to resolve repeated bullying of a teenage girl, who her mother says was subjected to multiple forms of bullying.

The girl was told to jump out a window, repeatedly harassed over email and social media and was made to watch porn during a lunch break on other student's phones, according to her mother.

In one incident, the teen was made to watch porn, while in another, her photo was put on an Instagram account where adult men commented on it, however the mother said teachers could not tell her what consequences there were for the students.

"They did horrible things to her … I was very concerned about her mental health, that she may kill herself and didn't want another Dolly Everett on our hands," she said.

"I was working with the school … but decided to remove her, I was concerned she was going to kill herself.

"The school were supporting her, they were good with her, but their (other student's) behaviour didn't change.

"The more the girl's got into trouble, the more they targeted (her)."

She said a "lot of talks were had" regarding the porn incident.

"I think parents were told about (watching porn at lunch time), can you imagine doing that in a workplace?"

"They were watching porn one lunch time and asking (daughter) to watch knowing she was really uncomfortable with it."

Despite the mother contacting the school multiple times to rectify the issue, she said the behaviour continued and subsequently removed her daughter from the school before starting Term 1 2020.

The school is now asking for the Term 1 school fees of more than $2000.

 

St Ursula's College principal Tanya Appleby said the school provided a safe and caring environment. Picture: Kevin Farmer
St Ursula's College principal Tanya Appleby said the school provided a safe and caring environment. Picture: Kevin Farmer

St Ursula's College principal Tanya Appleby said the school provided a safe and caring environment and took its obligations to students extremely seriously.

"Their safety and wellbeing is always our highest priority. Any concerns raised with the college are taken seriously and thoroughly investigated with action taken as appropriate," she said.

Ms Appleby did not respond to questions regarding the outstanding school fees.

University of Queensland public health research fellow Dr Hannah Thomas said being bullied by peers could increase risk of later depression and anxiety almost two-fold.

"The research also shows that the more often you are bullying the more the risk of mental health difficulties increase," she said.

Child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said the scourge of bullying could be improved if psychologists were in every school, the effectiveness of bullying polices were assessed annually by survey and if children were required to sit the eSmart licence before using any device at school.

"Schools can't do anything about it if they don't know about it so you've got to tell - the trouble is in Queensland there is an entrenched no dobbing belief among the kids so that's a major problem because it means a lot of the problems will have been going on for a while and the damage is done," he said.

"The damage is significant - we're talking about anxiety, depression, self harm, and in some cases Dolly Everett suicide.

"This case (St Ursula's) clearly was suicidal and the parent acted promptly and bottom line is I accept its difficult for schools but … you've got to do everything you can to provide a safe environment in which to learn."

 

Education Minister Grace Grace said the Government recognised that having more support available at schools would help students when they need it most.
Education Minister Grace Grace said the Government recognised that having more support available at schools would help students when they need it most.

Education Minister Grace Grace said the Government recognised that having more professional mental health and wellbeing support available at schools would help students when they need it most.

"That's why we are providing $100 million over three years for a student wellbeing package that means that all Queensland state school students will have access at school to health and wellbeing professionals, such as psychologists, youth workers, behavioural specialists, and allied health professionals," she said.

"That's going to mean up to 464 additional health and wellbeing professionals employed in Queensland schools."

 

Originally published as 'Forced to watch porn': Private schoolgirl's bullying hell


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