No apology received for “my son’s torture,” mother of Australian Jewish boy subjected to anti-Semitic bullying tells hearing.
The mother of an Australian Jewish boy who was subjected to extreme anti-Semitic bullying at an elite private school in Melbourne has revealed that the family has yet to receive an apology for his ordeal.
“The outcome for us in real terms, has been nothing. Nothing,” the unnamed mother told a public hearing set up by the educational authorities in the state of Victoria to probe the bullying claims. “I find it incomprehensible that my son endured six months of racial and religious torture and no one has apologized or been held accountable.”
The 12-year-old boy was subjected to several months of anti-Semitic abuse at the prestigious Cheltenham Secondary College that began with an incident in which he was forced to kiss the shoes of a Muslim fellow-student.
Interviewed by the Australian Jewish News (AJN) last October, the boy’s mother revealed that her son had been lured into a public park by fellow students who invited him to play football.
As soon as he arrived, the AJN reported, he was presented with an ultimatum: Bow down and kiss the feet of a Muslim child or face the threat of violence by the nine other 12- and 13-year-olds.
Vastly outnumbered, the student complied. The incident was photographed, filmed and posted on Instagram.
In the ensuing months, the student was also subjected to anti-Semitic slurs including “Jewish ape,” “Jewish n****r” and “Jewish gimp.” He was followed home from school daily and physically assaulted in the school corridor by an assailant who called him “a cooked up Jewish c__.”
His mother told last Thursday’s hearing that she had feared for her son’s life in the six-week period after he left Cheltenham Secondary College and began at a new school.
“And when I wasn’t able to be at home with my son, and couldn’t contact him, I’d race home thinking my son had taken his own life,” she said through tears. “Nothing will ever undo what happened to us. But I will be damned if I will let one more parent, one more child suffer the way we have.”
James Newbury — the deputy chair of the hearing and a member of the Australian Parliament — told the mother that he empathized with her “as a parent” before breaking down in tears himself.
“The institutions have failed you. And as someone who is a part of those institutions, that upsets me greatly,” Newbury said.
“So, I want you to know how sorry I am on hearing your story, and your son’s story — and I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” he added tearfully.