Two Upper Hutt schoolgirls are being investigated after they were filmed beating up one of their peers.

The Year 9 and 10 Upper Hutt College students attacked a girl in Year 11 during lunchtime on Thursday.

Principal Judith Taylor said it was an assault – not a fight – and was witnessed by other students.

Footage of the attack was shared with other young people and eventually on local social media.

The school and police were investigating.

“Police have received a report of an assault at a school in Upper Hutt and are assessing lines of inquiry,” a spokesperson said.

Taylor said the student who was assaulted had bruising but did not require hospital care.

“She is okay but very shaken and will understandably take a little while to process what has happened.”

The assault was “serious”, and the victim was fortunate not to receive greater injuries, Taylor said.

Such an incident was “very rare” at the school.

“What we worry about is the reluctance of students to speak out when they see or hear something of concern, especially someone being bullied or harmed, especially on social media, which can be the precursor to something physical.

“The culture of ‘snitches get stitches’ is insidious in all schools. We want students to feel safe in sharing their concerns and worries, whether it is about bullying of themselves or others or something they’ve seen on social media.

“Although we have a great team of guidance and pastoral support for students to turn to, we have been working on introducing a way for students to anonymously notify the school of any form of harm – to themselves or others.”

Having the assault shared on social media made it worse for the victim, Taylor said.

“Young people often don’t know better and share it. The adults do know better, but still share it with others, [and] need to take some responsibility for their actions.”

Taylor said the two junior students were not currently at school, but the college was working with their families and an appropriate response will be decided once all the facts were considered.

“We are required to follow ministry processes, but the school’s response will recognise the serious nature of the assault and if the students are suspended, they will face a board disciplinary hearing later this week.”

Taylor said she would be meeting with them on Monday morning.

rnz.co.nz

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