Published July 12, 2010
A 13-year-old Australian girl has made a plea to stop bullying at her school after she was locked in a bathroom and punched by seven other students — all because she has autism, it emerged Sunday.
Chloe Hill wrote a letter urging bullies to stop the constant teasing and read it out at school assembly at Airdale Primary in Adelaide, South Australia, the (Adelaide) Sunday Mail reported.
"It came from my heart," Chloe told the Sunday Mail. "I wasn't feeling anxious or had butterflies in my tummy when I got up there — I just expressed how I was feeling."
Despite her plea the bullying has continued and Chloe spends most of her school life in solitude, too frightened to leave the classroom.
"I don't play with anybody, I just walk around by myself at recess and lunch," Chloe said. "I'm scared to go out of the class room. I get called names like 'retard', 'Minda' and 'spastic' and sometimes I get pushed and punched.”
Mother Kellie Wood, 34, and father Damien Hill, 37, enrolled Chloe at Airdale 18 months ago after removing her from another local school because of bullying problems.
Wood, a postal worker, said it broke her heart to send Chloe off to school every day knowing that she would be bullied, but she had no choice as Airdale was the only local primary school with a special needs class.
Chloe's teacher, Elzby Styne, said the school took bullying seriously, but there were a number of serious bullies who were continually being dealt with. "They don't just target Chloe, they will target any child they see as weak," she said.
University of South Australia bullying expert Professor Ken Rigby said Chloe was to be admired for reading her letter at school assembly.
He said new evidence suggested there was a slight decline in bullying but he said there was still far too much of it. "Of students who say they are bullied, 30 percent tell their teacher but, of those, 50 percent say things don't improve," Dr. Rigby said.