The parents of Dolly Everett have called on schools to be held accountable for bullying under a national framework.
Dolly, a Northern Territory teen who took her own life on January 3, attended Scots PGC College in Warwick, Queensland, where mum Kate and dad Tick have claimed she struggled with bullying.
She was suspended once for hitting a boy who Kate and Tick allege was physically and verbally bullying her.
“It just got too much and she turned around and decked him,” Kate told A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw in an exclusive interview.
“And then the school suspended her. They were like, ‘we don’t tolerate this behaviour’.”
In her second year, Dolly lost her phone privileges after she was involved in inappropriate pictures being sent.
“She just went from the most enjoyable little girl to someone that did end up in trouble at school,” Kate said.
“There’s so much that I found out now, as opposed to then, and it probably would’ve made the outcome so much different.”
Tick agreed, saying he and Kate missed “so many alarms”.
The couple are building a foundation, Dolly’s Dream, which will aim to establish a national framework for schools to address bullying.
“We hope that we can tell parents what to look out for,” Tick said.
“Talk to your kids, see what’s on their phone. You’re going to upset them, that’s human nature, but had we known what we know now, Dolly would still be alive.”
The Everetts believe measuring school response to bullying should be an auditable process.
“It’s not a matter of how many incidents, it’s about how the incidents are handled,” Tick said.
“It’s going to be a massive project.”
While there are some risks in exploring these types of stories, statistics say that one in four Australian children do experience some type of bullying in their lifetime.
It’s important for these families to know they’re not alone and Tick and Kate want to help parents and their children navigate their way through these situations.
Tick strongly believes “this whole thing isn’t just about our daughter. It’s about every little kid in Australia. This is about changing a culture”.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, or visit kidshelpline.com.au