Bullied teen awarded income for life
By LEONIE LAMONT - SMH | Monday, 14 May 2007
SYDNEY: A bullied teenager will receive substantial damages and an income for life after an Australian Supreme Court judge found NSW educational authorities failed in their duty of care to deal with playground assaults and bullying.
Benjamin Cox's mother, Angela, sued the State of NSW on behalf of the Hunter Valley teenager.
He will receive at least $220,000 for pain and suffering.
She said the bullying, which started in infants school, had resulted in her son having little education and being unable to work.
Outside court his barrister, Dennis Wheelahan, QC, said the judgement had implications for the education system.
"The implications are that pupils in our school systems who are the subject of this type of conduct [if liability is established] can expect to recover substantial damages as is the case for Benjamin Cox."
In her judgement, delivered today, Justice Carolyn Simpson commented that Mr Cox's "adolescence has been all but destroyed; his adulthood will not be any better. He will never know the satisfaction of employment. He will suffer anxiety and depression, almost certainly, for the rest of his life".
During the case, the judge heard that, while at Woodberry Public School in 1995, Mr Cox was "throttled" by an older boy, and received compensation from the Victims Compensation Tribunal over the attack. By the time he went to high school, his mother said he thought school a "scary proposition".
"He didn't like crowds, he didn't like teachers, didn't like the work," she said.
The court heard Mr Cox, who is now 18, was a virtual recluse. He had only completed schooling up until the end of year 7, and an attempt at home schooling had failed.
His mother said he rarely went out, had no friends, and was on a pension.
"He just locks himself in his room playing PlayStation games," she said.