An autistic teenager says it took him needing hospital treatment after a brutal attack for teachers to take the bullying from his schoolmates seriously.
Police are investigating after a group of boys allegedly followed and set upon Jeremiah Khan in May.
It came after an attack hours earlier in the school canteen and followed more than a year of bullying, My London report.
Before this event took place, the 15-year-old Westminster City School pupil says he was bullied for a year, but teachers brushed it off.
“I tried to tell the teachers, but they just wouldn’t listen to me,” he said.
“They told me to [be] ‘mature’ and think I was being silly. They wouldn’t try to defend me.”
Jeremiah’s autism means he sometimes struggles in social situations, and he says this is why he has been targeted.
“Some people just attack me because they think I’m weird, they think I’m different,” he added.
The bullying of Jeremiah, who is a softly-spoken gentle character with a love of art and music, began with teasing and tricks.
Boys would manipulate him into doing things or lie to teachers to get him in trouble.
“Some of the boys were bored. so they just decided [to] target [me] because I had no friends [and] looked like a loner,” he continued.
Jeremiah Khan with his mum Isa
“They started pressuring me to do stuff I didn’t want to do and they sometimes even lie about me.”
Things gradually escalated to name-calling and then became physical.
Jeremiah has been violently attacked in school on three occasions.
This includes him being punched in the face twice in the canteen by boys who are alleged to have later carried out the attack that put him in hospital.
Warning signs were also evident that Jeremiah was in danger on his journey to school long before the most severe incident.
The distance from Jeremiah’s home in Southwark to Westminster City School in Victoria is a lengthy one.
Travelling to school there have been no problems, but there has been a steady escalation of events on his way home, two of which required police involvement.
Firstly, Jeremiah was attacked on the bus by a boy from school who was trying to steal his bag.
A member of the public intervened and the incident was reported to police.
Then, a group of boys, some from the school, others not, stole his bag and used it to lure him into an area he didn’t know for a fight.
Vulnerable and significantly outnumbered, a more serious incident was once again averted by a member of the public who told Jeremiah to call his parents and police.
By this point, his mum Isa was getting worried and she contacted the school to find out what was going on.
“We came and picked him up that day without a bag,” she said.
“So I contacted the school and informed the head of year.
“[The teacher] spoke with the boys concerned and said they took the bag home for safekeeping.”
Isa was shocked the teacher had accepted such an explanation.
“I said: ‘this is not what happens. Jeremiah is bullied inside and outside of school,” she continued.
“This is his personal property, how can somebody physically take it from him and you say it’s safekeeping? They tried to lure him into an unfamiliar area to attack him.
She said she told the teacher: “This is not right. You all keep playing things down [and] not dealing with this situation.
“You’re not coming down hard on these children to stop this bullying, which is why it keeps going on.”
Considering the school knew that Jeremiah’s bag was being used as a tool by the bullies, Isa said she was troubled to discover that, when he’d been involved in a tussle with another boy who was trying to steal it, the teacher had allegedly punished her son without asking what had happened.
The last straw for Isa was when Jeremiah was punched in the computer lab by a boy who said his voice was “annoying.”
It came only a week after he returned having recovered from the incident that left him unconscious.
Most shockingly, a teacher was present when it took place.
At that time, Jeremiah had been leaving school at lunchtime to avoid possible future attacks.
Isa said she did not like the arrangement as it involved him missing school, in particular subjects he enjoyed like art and music.
She was convinced more needed to be done.
“We had a meeting and I said; ‘I’m not sending my son to school. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But his life is at stake now.’”
She expected a response from the school’s leadership team, but claims it was only after she contacted the chief executives of Westminster and Southwark councils, as well as the head of education, that the headteacher got in touch.
After this a raft of measures were introduced by the school designed to protect Jeremiah.
They agreed to pay for a taxi taking him home until the end of the year, teachers listened to his complaints and escorted him to lessons.
Jeremiah Khan with his mum Isa
However, his safe journey to school is now in jeopardy.
The South Londoner enjoys attending Westminster City School and doesn’t want to leave.
But, with term starting again on Monday, September 6, his mother Isa feels she will have to keep him at home for his own safety.
This is because Westminster City School has said it won’t pay for Jeremiah to return home in a taxi anymore.
Isa has applied to the Southwark Council to help transport him from school, but her application has been rejected, she has appealed, but a decision is not due until well after Jeremiah’s school year has begun.
With his GCSEs this year, Jeremiah wants nothing more than a peaceful final year.
The Metropolitan Police told My London enquiries were ongoing and as yet no arrests had been made relating to the assault which saw Jeremiah knocked unconscious.
Responding to the issues raised by My London a spokesperson for Westminster City School, said: “The safety and welfare of our students is our highest priority. As such, we have worked very closely with the family to quickly respond to the matter and ensure the necessary support is in place.
“In line with our behaviour and anti-bullying policies, appropriate, robust sanctions have been taken however, as we are currently supporting the police with an investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment on that further.
“We will continue to work together with our students, parents and staff to ensure our strict behaviour policy and dedicated pastoral support helps to provide a respectful teaching and learning environment within an inclusive, compassionate community in which all pupils can fulfil their potential.”
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