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Letters

A case of bullying and lack of supervision

On 13th July 2023, I left my 5 year old in the care of Stepping Stones Academy summer camp, located at St. Jullie’s Street, St. George. I contracted the space at the summer camp for my son on paying the sum of Three Hundred and Fifty Five dollars ($355.00).

Based on the advert which induced me to enter into the contract, I expected my son to be placed in a group of children ages 3 to 5, my son being born on 11th April 2018.

I dropped off my son at approximately 9.00 a.m. At approximately 5.00 p.m. I returned to pick up my son. As I was in conversation with the owner I asked my son how his day was and when he responded I immediately recognised that my son had a broken front tooth.

When I dropped off my son at approximately 9.00 a.m. – my son had no such injury. To see my son with a broken tooth sank my heart as only a week ago I took him to the Dentist, he had lovely teeth accompanying his usual smile. However, what was disappointing, disturbing, shocking and downright scary are:-

(a) the fact that it was the first time I was learning that my son sustained an injury on his first day at summer camp, and

(b) that no one on the staff of the school was aware of the injury or the circumstances in which it occurred. This is completely unacceptable.

It was my son’s second day at the camp, and he does not know the names of the other participants in the camp. However, he was able to tell me that he was pushed by two bigger boys and that is how he sustained the injury. I do understand that children get into accidents, which may result in injury.

That’s part of life, but the report from my son suggests that the boys who were involved in the incident with him were older than him, which suggest that they were older than five years, which, if correct, is inconsistent with the representation in the advert that there was a group for 3 to 5 years, which is the group I expected my son to be placed in given his age.

But again, I must say, that even if it is the case that my son was placed among boys older than him, what about the supervision? How is it explainable that an incident resulting in personal injury to a minor can take place at a summer camp holding itself out and contracting as being capable of securely looking after people’s children for a certain number of hours of the day, and no one on the staff of the camp is aware of the incident? And no one can provide an explanation of what happened and in what circumstances?

In the circumstances, I decided to immediately withdraw my son from the summer camp. I am traumatised about the incident, and it has affected me emotionally and mentally.

As a responsible parent I think I have a social obligation to raise alarm bells about this incident so as to forestall further and possibly more serious incidents in the future not only at Steppingstones Academy but other organisations holding themselves out as providing a safe summer camp environment and thereby inducing parents to entrust their children to their care.

Sherrine Francis Hackett