Kasey Harris with her nine-year-old son Liam, who has been bullied on the local school bus.
Kasey Harris with her nine-year-old son Liam, who has been bullied on the local school bus.

‘Nightmares for a month’: mum shares son’s bullying pain

EMERALD mums have joined forces to combat bullying after their children have been the constant targets of schoolyard bullies.

Kasey Harris was "disgusted" when her nine-year-old son Liam arrived home from school after having Blu Tack spat on him on the school bus.

It wasn't the first time Liam had been a target of bullying.

Last year a bully sat beside him on the school bus and tried to break both of his arms, Ms Harris claimed.

"He broke down in tears," she said.

"He had nightmares for a month, thinking they were going to come and attack him again."

This week, Liam, who was recently diagnosed with ADHD and autism, said a Year 5 student snatched food out of his hand and "pegged" it at his face.

The mum-of-three was fed up with the bullying of her eldest child, who has been a target since Year 2.

"It's been going on for years. He's had his hair pulled, been teased for wearing glasses, teased for not being able to read or write properly," she said.

Kasey Harris with her nine-year-old son Liam.
Kasey Harris with her nine-year-old son Liam.

Although it was the incident on the school bus that really pushed Ms Harris over the edge.

In August she created the 'Emerald Bullying' Facebook page, which has already reached close to 200 members.

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Within days, three other mums contacted Ms Harris about the same bullies on the Echidna Valley school bus route.

"I've had three or four other mothers say they've had to take their own children off the bus because the same thing has happened," she said.

Emerald Coaches runs 12 school bus services across Emerald and surrounds every school day.

A TransLink spokesman said the Department of Transport and Main Roads had a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of bullying or anti-social behaviour on its services.

"The safety of public transport customers and staff is the number one priority of TMR and any reports of bullying on services are treated seriously," the spokesman said.

"All children have the right to a safe journey between home and school.

"TMR encourages students and parents to report any instances of bullying on school buses to the operators so those incidents can be properly investigated.

"Students can be refused travel if they are found to have breached the code of conduct through repeated misconduct, unsafe, dangerous, destructive or life-threatening behaviour. "Refused travel can range from one day to permanent."

Emerald Coaches general manager Shane Jakobi said three students of a range of ages had been suspended from the bus due to bullying this year.

Emerald Coaches is also in the process of upgrading CCTV on the buses to ensure all incidents are captured and to assist the driver so they aren't being distracted.

Officer in Charge of Emerald Police Station Senior Sergeant Peter McFarlane said Emerald Police considered bullying to be a social responsibility involving multiple parties, including parents, students, teachers and schools.

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"Bullying is a personal safety issue that should be directly addressed by the schools, including incidents that occur while travelling to and from schools," Snr Sgt McFarlane said.

"Emerald Police have a close relationship with local schools through the Adopt-a-Cop program.

"Local officers are happy to work with schools to address issues that arise, and provide resources or supports relating to these issues."

Snr Sgt McFarlane said parents should also take an active role in ensuring their children's safety in relation to bullying that occurred outside of school hours by staying up to date with social media platforms.

"It needs to stop now before another suicide happens. That's my biggest fear," Ms Harris said.

"I was diagnosed with depression in grade 6 and I don't want the same thing to happen to (Liam)."

The Facebook page was created to raise awareness around school aged bullying and as a space for parents and students to vent.

"I want parents to talk to their kids about respecting others and what to do, what not to do, to stop bullying," Ms Harris said.

"To let kids know they can speak up and there are people out there that will listen."

To be part of the conversation, visit the Emerald Bullying Facebook page.

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