‘Fights are normal’: Teen speaks out on bullying and violence at school

Concerning: Chase's mother Jacoba McQueen is concerned for her daughter and other children being bullied. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.
Concerning: Chase's mother Jacoba McQueen is concerned for her daughter and other children being bullied. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.

A Mandurah mother and her 13-year-old daughter have spoken out about the bullying culture at Halls Head College after the teen was punched five-times in the back of the head after school on Friday. 

The attack on Chase MacDonald happened at about 2.30pm at the bus stop, supervised by a teacher.

The incident, captured on a mobile phone, shows the teacher’s attempt to split the pair up, and a number of students laughing and jeering. 

The Department of Education has confirmed the alleged attacker was suspended on Monday, after the incident was investigated. 

Read More:

Chase said this kind of behaviour was normal and fights happened regularly on school grounds.  

“There’s videos of all the fights...everyone has them on their phones,” she said.

Chase said she returned from school holidays after rumours were spread on social media platform Instagram, which prompted the bullying.

“We came back to school and she started threatening me, calling me names,” she said. 

Chase said the intimidation and bullying got so bad it affected her ability to learn.

“All the time I was thinking of what she would do and what she would say,” she said. 

“In class she would be looking through the windows, and I would be worried. The teachers knew what was happening.”

Chase said she wanted to feel safe at school. “I want them to listen and do something, because the amount of people I know who are scared to go to school...”

Chase’s mother Jacoba McQueen said she did not realise the full extent of the situation, until she was told her daughter was skipping class to avoid the student.

“It’s heart wrenching that my daughter does not want to go to school,” she said. 

“She’s confused and scared and doesn’t know what’s going on.

“She’s got enough problems as it is, trying to grow up and get through this world...she doesn’t need those added hassles.”

Ms McQueen said they had submitted four incident reports to the school prior to the incident on Friday.

But the Education Department said the school staff were only made aware of an issue between the two students that morning. 

Halls Head College principal Bronwyn White said counselling and a behaviour and attendance plan was put in place when a student returned to school following a suspension.

“School staff work with parents and outside agencies to help support students with managing their behaviour when trying to resolve conflict,” she said. 

“Students, through their parents if necessary, are always encouraged to immediately report any incidents of behaviour that makes them feel unsafe.

“Once reported, an incident is investigated and measures are put in place to help prevent the behaviour from continuing.

“We want our students to resolve conflict without violence and try to nip things in the bud so I’m pleased to say students very rarely repeat negative behaviour.”