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The family of a schoolgirl who claimed a group of boys ripped out her hair during an attack say teachers were “negligent” in protecting the 14-year-old. Keziah Falanga, a student at Hendon School in London, claims she was attacked by four boys who hurled insults at her during lunchtime on March 1. The teenager, who was left “screaming” and “distraught”, says it was only when friends intervened that she was able to flee and find a teacher to help her.
But once she located a member of staff, Keziah’s sister Christess – who was on FaceTime with Keziah while she spoke to the teacher – claims they were “more concerned with getting her off the phone” than “asking if she was okay.”
Over a week after the assault, Christess says a meeting was held and the family was informed the schoolboys involved had been permanently excluded.
But prior to that, Keziah claims she was placed in isolation “for her safety” while the boys continued to attend classes.
Furthermore, she claims that she later had to sit in class with one of her attackers.
Christess says the school was aware that Keziah had received racist messages and death threats from the same group last summer, and that the incident showed they were “really negligent.”
Christess says her sister rang her “screaming” and “crying” after she was attacked at school.
The 25-year-old said: “She literally called me right after. I just heard her screaming down the phone. She was absolutely distraught.” Keizah says she was horrified after realising some of her hair had been ripped out.
She said: “I was crying because I lost a part of my hair. I didn’t feel the pain in my neck because of the adrenaline on the day but my neck was really stiff and it would hurt. I couldn’t move it around. The first thing that went through my mind was my sister because the same thing happened to her. Like the exact same thing happened to her.”
Since posting about the incident on Instagram and Twitter, Christess says other students have come forward with complaints about the school’s handling of racism and bullying through her social media inbox.
She said: “There’s 15 [messages] so far, I haven’t opened all my requests yet. But there’s probably a lot more in my requests.”
While on the phone to Keziah in the aftermath of the assault, Christess says she was ‘livid’ as she witnessed the response from teachers while her sister was in pain.
Christess said: “You could hear her teachers coming and not even to ask her, ‘Are you okay?’ The first thing was, ‘get off your phone. You just need to be off your phone.’ My temper was literally rising at the minute because I was like, ‘what is the concern?’ She’s had to walk around the whole school building to actually come face to face with a member of staff.”
Keziah says she was asked to make a statement by teachers and reported the incident to police. A spokesperson for the Met Police said: “Police were called at around 13:50hrs on Wednesday, 1 March to a report of an assault at a school on Golders Rise, Hendon. The victim, a girl in her teens, reported she had been subject to a racially aggravated assault the previous day. Enquiries are ongoing; no arrests have been made.”
Keziah says the boys were behind racist messages sent to her on social media last summer from fake accounts, sharing her home address, which she later reported to the school.
She said: “They would call us fat gorillas and stuff. And it came to a point where they would send like old pictures of myself and they would make fun of me. People were saying we’re going to come to your house and we’re going to kill you. They would like call me a slag and they would make rape threats. Me and my friends decided to go to [a member of staff] and tell them about what happened. We were just nervous to go and talk because we hadn’t told anyone about it.”
But when Keziah approached the teacher, she was disappointed with her reaction.
Keziah said: “[The teacher] was like, ‘why did you guys come at the end of lunch? Because now it’s less time, you guys need to go back to lesson’. We were thinking, ‘okay, well you don’t really understand how we feel. Obviously we’re a bit nervous to tell you because this is a big situation.
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“We sent [the teacher] and the safeguarding members of staff the screenshots from the group chat, and they opened an investigation and apparently sanctions were put on the boys.”
But Keziah says the same boys continued to taunt her, leading to the attack which left her severely injured on one side of her head. Christess says that this was all down to ‘neglect’ from the school and that they only launched an investigation once she posted a picture of her sister’s injuries on social media.
Christess said: “That school, I just feel like now it’s they just showed that they’re really, really negligent. Keziah has suffered a lot. This has been going on since last summer and now obviously it’s come to this now. The fact that they say they are only investigating because things started blowing up on social media.”
A spokesperson for Hendon School said: “We cannot comment on the specific details of the allegations while we investigate and work with the local authority and Police to establish the facts. However, we can say as a school that prides itself on its inclusive culture, we take all allegations of racism and bullying extremely seriously and would take strong disciplinary action should we find any instances of this happening among our pupils.
“We are aware of what is being shared on social media and are working with partner agencies to ensure the pupils involved in the incident are protected from those wanting to take the law into their own hands. We would like to reassure our community that the wellbeing of our students continues to be our number one concern and we continue to support them at this time.”
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