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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Bullied Australian in A$1m payout
Bullying
Prime Minister John Howard has announced new powers for teachers
An Australian teenager has won record damages after a court found that his school "grossly failed" in its duty to protect him from a school bully.

Benjamin Cox, now 18, was regularly teased and beaten from the age of five by an older pupil, leaving him with psychiatric problems, a court heard.

He was awarded A$213,000 (US$177,000, 90,000) plus a lifetime income that is likely to take his payout beyond $1m.

Australia's PM has made plans to give teachers more power to tackle bullying.

'Petrified'

Mr Cox was bullied by a disturbed student at Woodberry Public School, leaving him with severe psychiatric problems and robbing him of his childhood, the New South Wales Supreme Court heard.

His adolescence has been all but destroyed; his adulthood will not be any better
Judge Carolyn Simpson

The boy's mother, Angela Cox, told the court that her son was "petrified" of going to school and was unable to finish his education.

She said Benjamin began to suffer headaches and nightmares, cried all the time and developed a stutter, adding that on one occasion the bully had tried to strangle her son.

When she reported the abuse to the police and the school authorities, Mrs Cox said she was told by a department of education officer that "bullying builds character".

Judge Carolyn Simpson accepted evidence that the bullying had led to the teenager's current psychiatric condition and ruled the school had "grossly failed" in its duty of care.

She said: "His 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. He has no friends and is unlikely to make any."


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