Girl burned with cigarette, splashed with urine by schoolmates

She claims she had urine splashed at her face, was burned with a cigarette and beaten until she fell.

All on her first day of school this year, she said.

On Jan 2, Agnes (not her real name), 15, was picked up by her boyfriend after school.

A schoolmate, Nancy (not her real name), also 15, apparently saw her and confronted her regarding a rumour Agnes had been spreading about a mutual friend since last March.

Nancy then splashed water from a bottle at Agnes' boyfriend, who pushed her away.

At 2pm that day, Nancy contacted Agnes' boyfriend through a mutual friend on Twitter, asking him and Agnes to meet and "settle things".

They agreed, as Agnes was being harassed in school by Nancy and wanted the bullying to end.

Agnes said they met at an HDB block near a community club, where a group of eight teenage boys and girls, including Nancy, surrounded them.

One of them splashed a cup of urine at Agnes' face.

"I told my boyfriend I wanted to leave," Agnes told The New Paper.

"But he insisted that we stay and resolve the issue."

As her boyfriend walked away to call his friends for help, one of the youngsters suddenly burned Agnes with a lit cigarette.

Agnes claimed: "They burned me three times on my left arm. I didn't know what to do but moved further away."

For the next hour, the group discussed what to do with Agnes. They moved from one block to another when they saw a police car patrolling the area.

Asked why she did not approach the police, Agnes said she was afraid and thought she would get arrested.

Once the police car was no longer in sight, Nancy challenged Agnes to a one-on-one fight but Agnes did not respond.

SLAPPING

"One of them grabbed my hair and I cried out in pain," Agnes claimed.

"They slapped and punched my face more than 10 times, and kicked me till I fell."

She said the beating lasted for about three minutes, after which they stopped and just laughed at her.

"They called me slut, prostitute and b****," alleged Agnes, who just started Secondary 4 at a school in the central region.

"I was in pain and crying on the ground. I was so scared that they would use weapons and beat me up some more."

She said three passers-by saw the incident but they did not help her.

Her attackers eventually let her walk away after the two-hour long ordeal, and Agnes called her mother, crying.

Her boyfriend was nowhere to be found.

She was treated the next day at KK Women's and Children's Hospital for the burns and injuries.

When The New Paper called Nancy about Agnes' allegations, the teenager claimed she had "forgotten" what happened.

"I don't think I'm bullying her," said Nancy.

"She made a big fuss over it. A lot of things happened, I cannot remember."

Agnes made a police report and brought up the incident to the school.

The police confirmed the report, and said investigations are ongoing.

The school replied to our queries in an e-mail: "The case is now under investigation and as such, we are unable to comment."

Agnes' mother said she is deeply concerned about the incident, but is at her wits' end.

"I am worried for her safety, but there is little I can do," she added.

In the meantime, she has given her daughter a personal alarm device in hopes that it will protect her.

"As a mother, I want to put a stop to this," said Agnes' mother, a divorcee."But I can't be with her all the time. When she's walking home, will she get bullied again? What will the bullies do next?"

Agnes claimed that Nancy and her friends threatened her after the incident, saying they know where she lives.

Agnes said: "When I see her (Nancy) in school, I try not to make eye contact with her, because she keeps staring at me.

"I blame myself because by spreading a rumour, I had given her a reason to harass me."

The rumour involved Agnes' ex-boyfriend hitting an ex-girlfriend, she added.

Agnes' mother said her daughter is now going for counselling at a family centre near her home.

Said Agnes: "I keep thinking of the urine splashed in my face.

"It's very hard to sleep at night, knowing I have to go to school the next day."

Both victim and bullies need help

Victims of bullying often feel blame, shame and guilt.

"It is humiliating for the victim. There is a high chance that the victim will suffer from mental and emotional trauma," said Dr Carol Balhetchet, senior director for youth services at the Singapore Children's Society.

Victims may end up blaming themselves for the attacks, asking themselves what they did wrong.

"The victim needs to speak to someone who can help her put things in perspective, to understand that it is not her fault," she said.

"If she doesn't, it might result in her developing post-traumatic stress disorder."

When asked what would cause young girls to resort to physical attacks, Dr Balhetchet said: "For girls, it's all about boyfriends and jealousy. I suspect it has something to do with a love interest or another male."

She added that the bullies also need help.

"The perpetrators need to understand that there are better ways to deal with issues," she said.

"We are living in a civilised society. We are not gangsters or hoodlums.

"If you don't want to receive it, then don't dish it out to others."


This article was first published on January 21, 2015.
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