September 20, 2018

'Blatant disrespect': Schoolgirl punished after refusing to stand for anthem

14 September 2018, 11:04 | Glen Norman

Advance Australia Fair: Pauline Hanson attacks schoolgirl's anthem protest

A nine-year-old schoolgirl in Australia refused to stand for the national anthem to protest alleged institutional racism. File

Nine-year-old Harper Nielson claimed on The Project that "Advance Australia Fair" was originally written to mean advancing white Australia.

While her parents have defended their daughter, the year four student was reportedly given detention by her school and later told that in the future she could either leave the building during the anthem or stand without singing.

According to 9News, the Australian department of education released a statement saying "at no time" did the school threaten to suspend or exclude her for refusing to take part in the national anthem.

Harper was given detention last week as a result of her defiance but the punishment has not seemed to phase her.

Canberra, Sep 12: A nine-year-old girl in Australia is facing the ire of the country's prominent politicians, calling for her suspension from school, after she refused to stand during the national anthem "out of respect for the nation's Indigenous population".

"She's shown incredible bravery in wanting to stick to what she believes in and make a stance for something she believes right and I couldn't be more proud of her for wanting to do this", he said. Hanson said. "I'm offended about this..."

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The politician said the nine-year-old should be suspended if she continued to sit during the anthem.

Controversial commentator Mark Latham spoke to 4BC about the matter, saying Harper's silent protest was a "behavioural problem" and she should be kicked out of school, while others blamed her parents for raising a disobedient child.

"I was really amazed that such a young person was so strong and showed such resolve to take such a peaceful and strong stance on something", Mark, an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, said. "Stop the silly protest and stand and sing proudly your National Anthem", Bleijie said on his social media, adding that sitting during the anthem disrespected Australian veterans.

Harper arrived at the decision to protest herself but discussed the issue with her parents.

In a blistering tweet, Opposition MP Jarrod Bleijie slammed Harper as a "brat".

"We were surprised behaviour such as a passive non-participation might be considered in the same realm as something like bringing a knife to school or being violent towards others", she said.

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"I'm angry about this".

Australian Sen. Pauline Hanson posted a video in which she criticized Harper.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the girl should "follow the rules" and that, "it's just a sign of good manners and courtesy to stand for the national anthem".

Should children be punished for this sort of behaviour?

Mark Nielsen, Harper's father, told Nine News his daughter was "very fearless", adding he had met with the school's principal but no agreement had been reached.

In a statement, the Queensland Department of Education said it was inclusive and supported different points of view, but denied that Harper had been threatened with suspension or expulsion for her protest.

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