Acrimony at Hong Kong school as parents reject findings of bullying probe
Seven-year-old had to have surgery to remove pencil-tip eraser from ear, and parents say he has been targeted by other pupils
Acrimony reigned on Wednesday at the Hong Kong primary school at the centre of an alleged bullying scandal, as teachers said they couldn’t substantiate a mother’s claims that her son was repeatedly targeted on campus, and the boy’s parents vowed to get to the bottom of it.
The parents of the seven-year-old boy vehemently rejected a school investigation’s findings, even accusing the school of trying to make them out to be liars.
The Primary One pupil is recovering after surgery to remove a pencil-tip eraser from his ear canal, and was still absent from class on Wednesday. His parents, surnamed Yu, have already threatened to pull the child out of the school, but it was unclear if they would press ahead with that.
Chau Yam-ling, headmistress of the Church of Christ in China Hoh Fuk Tong Primary School, in Tuen Mun, held a meeting to announce results of an investigation launched after six separate complaints from the mother between September and November. The 15-page investigation report provided a detailed account of the complaints and action the school had taken.
Some complaints were verified, including an incident in September, when the boy complained a girl sitting behind him in class had repeatedly disturbed him. Their teacher later confirmed the girl had “slapped” him to get him to pass her some homework.
But other accusations could not be proven, including in the most serious incident on November 10, when the boy ended up with the eraser in his ear. His parents insisted it was put there by another child, but the school said there was no evidence of that.
None of the five teachers in class that day could recall abnormal behaviour from the boy, according to the report. CCTV footage capturing the boy’s activity during recesses in the playground also did not suggest there was anything wrong.
The mother told teachers the following Monday that the boy refused to go to school, fearing he would be bullied again. The school’s social workers had tried in vain to request a home visit, and after numerous exchanges the mother called police on Friday, the same day she revealed her son’s injuries.
Emotions ran high as the meeting went on. One parent suggested the injuries may have been the result of domestic violence.
The boy’s mother rejected the accusation, before breaking into tears. She and her husband rubbished the findings as they vowed to hold the school accountable.
Chau said the school’s sponsoring body, the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China, would set up an independent committee to follow up on the incident.
The Education Bureau said it would study the report, and in the mean time keep close contact with the school and the parents to provide any necessary help.