Rampant Bullying At Hillcrest College
SIX Upper Sixth students at Hillcrest College were on Monday suspended pending a disciplinary hearing after breaking into a Form Two boys’ hostel and assaulting them with brooms and belts at midnight on Saturday.
The gang also broke the school’s property in the process.
Hillcrest College principal, Mr Orlando Cosme Fernandes confirmed the incident, and said they had suspended the six students who were implicated in the matter.
He said the incident is under investigation.
One boy sustained injuries and was attended to by a doctor.
“Last Saturday night, a regrettable incident happened where some senior boys raided the Form Two boys’ dormitory. One boy sustained minor injuries and was taken to a doctor. This issue is under investigation and the senior boys who were implicated were suspended, pending the outcome of investigations,” said Mr Fernandes.
However, parents with children at the school want the issue to be reported to the police and also professed displeasure on how the principal is dealing with the matter.
One parent with a child who was affected by the bullying incident expressed disappointment over the school’s reluctance to report the incident to the police.
“The principal refused to make a police report saying this will taint the bullies’ records and will also disturb the boys as they are due to sit for their final examinations,” said the parent who requested anonymity.
The parent said they are living in fear for their children’s safety because of a series of bullying incidents by senior students which they claim have been going on for some time.
“Senior students usually raid junior students’ hostels and attack them. This has been going on for years. Apparently, the seniors order the juniors not to report to school authorities or their parents,” said the parent.
Parents and guardians of students at the school have resorted to airing out their grievances in the school’s WhatsApp group.
“A police report must be made considering the extent of this thuggish behaviour. How do you allow kids to vandalise school property and roam at midnight? This has to stop. Do you want a dead body for you to act? I believe there are a lot of things happening at this school. As parents, we need to act fast before it is too late,” wrote one parent on the WhatsApp group.
“The bullying is far much bigger than this. It starts with the school culture where prefects are seen as demi-gods. Juniors are supposed to carry the prefects’ books and bags. They should walk out of the way when prefects are passing.
“This is teaching the prefects to abuse juniors and future subordinates, assuming that they become managers or seniors in their lives. Respect is earned and should be earned. If a child reports to his or her parents, he or she is antagonised by the seniors,” wrote another parent.
However, Mr Fernandes declined to comment on the conduct of the school’s prefects’.
Manicaland Provincial Education Director, Mr Edward Shumba said he was yet to receive a report from the school.
He said the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s position is that bullying cases can be dealt with internally or externally, adding that in cases where a student gets hospitalised or seeks medical attention as a result of bullying, that is a criminal offence that should be dealt with by the police.
“We have administrative justice where the school can deal with the matter internally, but if one of the students had to be taken to hospital, then the police need to be involved. It is a serious criminal offence and a police report should have been made,” he said.