Abertillery school closes after boy loses finger ‘fleeing bullies’
A school has closed “on health and safety grounds” after an 11-year-old boy lost his finger “fleeing bullies”.
Raheem Bailey was allegedly beaten by a group of children at school on Tuesday and broke his finger while climbing a fence to escape his tormentors, his mother said. It later had to be amputated.
Shantal Bailey said her son had faced “racial and physical abuse” since he started secondary school at Abertillery Learning Community in South Wales in September.
Police are now investigating a report of an assault on Raheem at the secondary school, and the school trust has closed all of its campuses on Monday.
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council said the school was working with Gwent Police to establish what happened.
In said in a statement: “All campuses at Abertillery Learning Community will be closed (on Monday) on health and safety grounds. Learners will access blended learning.
“The safety and well-being of learners and staff remains of paramount importance to the Learning Community and the Local Authority at all times.”
Boxer Anthony Joshua and footballer Jadon Sancho are among those who have sent messages of support to Raheem since the incident is claimed to have taken place and gained national attention.
Football manager Chris Hughton, pundit Gary Neville and Olympic BMX biker Kye Whyte have also contacted Raheem to wish him well.
US basketball player Gerald Green, who forged a hugely successful career with nine fingers, has even set up a call to speak to Raheem directly.
Almost £94,000 has now been raised on a Go Fund Me page to go towards a prosthetic finger for Raheem and his ongoing recovery.
Ms Bailey said she was “truly grateful” for the generosity shown by so many towards Raheem.
She said the kind messages had “boosted” the spirit of the young boy who she said is still occasionally “feeling very down” because of the bullying he has received.
Speaking to the PA news agency on Sunday, Ms Bailey said: “It is difficult, as a mum, having to tell your child that people might not like you because of your skin – not because you’re mean, not because you’re horrible, but just because of the skin he was born into.”
Ms Bailey alleges her son was attacked by a group of children at the school and was beaten then kicked after being pushed to the ground.
She said Raheem made a desperate attempt to leave the school grounds but got his right-hand ring finger caught while climbing a fence, causing a severe injury.
He underwent six hours of surgery to save his finger but it was unsuccessful.
“The whole time (he was) telling me ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry mummy. I just couldn’t, I couldn’t stay there, like why does no-one like me?’ Ms Bailey said
“These are things that my child, while being in pain, is constantly having to ask me, ‘mummy, why does no-one like me? Like why? Why did they pick on me?’”
Gwent Police said: “A multi-agency meeting has taken place and we’re working with the school as part of our ongoing inquiries.”
Superintendent Vicki Townsend said urged people to “think about the impact their social media posts and commentary could have on those affected”.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi called the incident “sickening” when speaking to Sophie Ridge on Sky News on Sunday.
The Welsh Government said: “We condemn bullying and racial harassment in any form and expect allegations and incidents of bullying and racism to be fully investigated by schools, with appropriate action taken to address the matter and prevent further instances from happening.”
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