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Teen sues over schoolyard bullying

A TEENAGER who attempted suicide after years of torment at the hands of a schoolyard bully is suing the Victorian Department of Education.

Nathan Whitmore claimed in a Supreme Court writ Somerville Secondary College did nothing when he complained of bullying between 2013 and 2015.

The Age reported court documents claim he complained to the school’s principal and assistant principle, five teachers and the student’s well-being officer.

His mother also made a number of inquiries that went unanswered.

He told Fairfax last year his bully said: “You’re a gay fa**** who everyone hates, just go kill yourself and get it over with, everyone would be happy and better off”.

At one point, his mother took him to police to take out a restraining order after he was brutally bashed with a skateboard.

“Nobody helped and I just felt alone,” he said in an emotional open letterto the state’s education minister, James Merlino, on change.org last year.

“I was told by one boy that he was going to stab me to death and I was on the top of his kill list. My mum told the principal and he found a machete in his locker. He only got a three-day suspension and then all this friends said I was going to get bashed for dobbing.”

Nathan couldn’t face going back, and tried to take his own life.

Even though he switched to a new school, he’s still struggling to cope.

“I have had so much time off school because of my depression. I am still nowhere near recovered. Sometimes I self-harm to cope. It takes the pain from my head and makes me focus on something else.

“I feel so guilty that my mum has spent so much time and money on me.”

Almost 59,000 people signed the petition he started, which asked Mr Merlino to provide bullied school students with free counselling.

Now, the teenager is holding the authorities to account.

The Age reports the writ, filed earlier this month, accuses the Department of Education and Training of negligence and claims it had a duty of care.

The writ states that in addition to depression and suicidal thoughts, Nathan has suffered weight loss and anorexia, sleep problems, anxiety, and he is socially withdrawn.

He’s suing the government for an undisclosed sum that would cover the thousands of dollars his mother has spent on his pain and suffering.

A psychiatrist also found his emotional injuries and post-traumatic stress would limit his future earning potential once he enters the workforce.

His lawyer, Stuart Le Grand, told Fairfax’s Adam Cooper it’s important for schools to provide a safe and supportive environment.

“Schools owe their students a duty of care and where this is breached, they may be held liable for the damage and may be compelled to compensate those who’ve been harmed.”

For help contact Lifeline on 131 114 or the Kid’s Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

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