Jewish Boys Taunted In Shocking Cases Of Muslim Anti-Semitic Bullying At Melbourne Schools.
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A 12-year-old Jewish student was forced to kneel down and kiss the shoes of a Muslim classmate, while a five-year-old boy was allegedly called a “Jewish cockroach” and repeatedly hounded in the school toilets by his young classmates.
The two incidents this year – the first involving a year 7 boy at Cheltenham Secondary College and the second a prep student at Hawthorn West Primary School – have prompted the Anti-Defamation Commission to sound an alarm about what it says is a “rapidly spreading” crisis involving anti-Semitic bullying in Victorian state schools.
Both boys, whose parents have asked to remain anonymous, have since left the schools where the incidents occurred, with the five-year-old boy currently being home schooled.
The older boy’s act of kissing another student’s shoes, under threat of being swarmed by several other boys, was filmed, photographed and shared on social media.
No disciplinary action has been taken against the group of boys involved in the incident, which took place in a public park.
The mother said she was bitterly disappointed by the response of Cheltenham Secondary College and the Education Department.
The school and the department have denied having responsibility for the incident, because it did not take place on school grounds, the mother said.
“I took such offence with the Education Department, because there was nothing they did to protect my son at all, at any point in time – that’s what’s cut me up,” she said.
The mother sought out the parents of the Muslim boy, who were horrified by their son’s actions.
“We sat down, his parents, the two boys and myself, around the table and explained the velocity of [the bullying] and what it meant to us as parents as far as building bridges between Jews and Muslims in society and not creating division like that photo does,” she said.
One of the boys who watched on was later suspended for five days for assaulting the Jewish student in the school locker room.
The Jewish boy was punched in the face and left with a bruised back and had skin gouged out of his shoulder, his mother said.
The mother of the five-year-old boy at Hawthorn West Primary said her son was repeatedly taunted and laughed at over his circumcised penis, to the point where he began to wet himself in class rather than go to the toilet.
The taunts – which the education department said could not be corroborated because they were not overheard by teachers – led the school to temporarily provide a separate toilet for the boy as a “safety plan”, although this plan failed on its second day.
The mother said one of the most disturbing aspects of the other children’s insults was the way they mirrored the anti-Semitic language of the Holocaust.
“The words ‘you dirty Jew’ and ‘Jewish cockroach’, they are such cliches,” she said.
“I grew up with Holocaust survivors, I used to go to synagogue with my uncle who was a Holocaust survivor and those were the words, literally, he was taunted with when he was five.”
The department conceded last month in an apology letter to the parents that the boy had been laughed at in the toilets by other students on this day and said this was unacceptable.
“While school staff were not able to substantiate that any negative interactions were anti-Semitic in nature, on the basis of those investigations, school staff identified an incident that involved children laughing at [the boy],” department director Barbara Crowe said.
“This was not acceptable and would have been an unpleasant experience for [the boy]. I am sorry that this occurred.”
But the mother said the school had made an error of judgment by treating the incident as general bullying, not anti-Semitism.
“Why not just say, this is anti-Semitism and talk about it? These are things that happen to different people and different religions,” she said.
The parents have lost confidence in Hawthorn West Primary School’s ability to care for their son, and are home schooling him while looking for a new school.
Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, said this was part of a disturbing trend of Jewish parents pulling their children out of government schools in Melbourne.
“There is mounting evidence that families are forced to take their children out of public schools and to enrol them in Jewish-day schools due to a growing sense of insecurity and fear that their kids will be harmed simply because of who they are,” Dr Abramovich said.
Mr Abramovich has been helping the mother of the 12-year-old boy to find another school for her daughter, because she does not want to send her to Cheltenham Secondary College.
The Education Department has been contacted for comment.