Another 11-year-old pupil bullied at school, parents breathe fire, change boy's haircut

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THE issue of hairstyles will be brought up at Heathfield Primary School’s next school governing body (SGB) meeting following a deadlock between the school and parents.

Parents of an 11-year-old Grade 5 pupil from Retreat said they changed their child’s hairstyle to build his self-esteem, following the trauma of a bullying incident last year, where they said the school did nothing to help him recover.

“I asked my teacher if I could go to the toilet, then the two boys were standing in the toilet. They first wanted to look over my shoulder so I pulled up my pants and went to the other toilet then they still looked over my shoulder and they said I have a small thing,” the emotional pupil said recalling the incident.

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“Then the one boy pushed me and the other one closed the door. So I had to climb over the door because I was stuck, then they ran away.”

His father, whose name is being withheld by the news crew for the child’s protection, said they were told the boys had received detention, which they were not satisfied with.

They were also promised counselling for their child, which they said he did not receive.

“He said he would keep us posted on the progress and give us feedback but he never did,” said the dad.

As their child became withdrawn, they tried exposing him to numerous activities and he eventually found a love for surfing and skateboarding.

“We decided to allow him to grow his hair but keep it manageable, as it fits well with the cultural sports he has now taken up.”

On returning to school, his teacher said he had to cut his hair, which his mother did (short back and sides) and the rest tied in a bun up the top.

The parents said they later met with the principal but the meeting did not go well after they wanted documentation on how the bullying incident was being handled.

“We also asked for the code of conduct but they refused to give it.”

Provincial Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the school investigated the matter.

“The learners involved were allegedly in detention and a 4th year social worker student was asked to speak to all the learners involved. The parents were allegedly asked for permission,” she said.

“The school’s hair policy is very clear in as much as step cuts, mushroom cuts, long hair etc are not acceptable. Hair may not be too long or have too much volume. The learner’s ’man-bun’ is in violation of the code of conduct.

“Unfortunately, the father insists that he does not cut his hair as it is part of his ’surfing culture’. Surfing is a sport, and hairstyles to accommodate sport hair trends do not fall under the accommodations for religious or cultural rights. The school has engaged with the parent over the matter. It will be raised in the next SGB meeting.”

– Cape times


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