Teachers at tragic karate teen's new school 'unaware' of risk of self-harming despite earlier suicide bid

TROUBLED TEEN: Dana Baker.

TROUBLED TEEN: Dana Baker.

First published in News
Last updated

TROUBLED sex abuse victim Dana Baker slashed her wrists with a pair of scissors at her new school, where teachers had not been made aware of the risk of her self-harming, despite an earlier suicide bid, an inquest heard.

There had not been enough sharing of information between schools and mental health services, admitted Worcestershire’s senior adviser on safeguarding children in education at the Stourport inquest on the youngster.

Dana, who was 16 and taking four A levels at Stourport High School and VIth Centre when she was found hanged from a tree near the Worcester Road island in Kidderminster in March, 2011, had first made revelations that she was having a relationship with her karate instructor in April, 2009.

Soon after shouting out in an English lesson at Wolverley CE Secondary School that she was in a relationship with the karate teacher, she took an overdose at her Kidderminster home on May 6, 2009.

She spent four months in a young people’s psychiatric unit at Stoke-on-Trent and was then in foster care in Worcester.

But within days of starting at her new school - Bishop Perowne in Worcester - Dana went to the toilets and attempted to cut her wrists with scissors.

She had also written a "plan for a story" to be written, detailing the various forms of abuse that she had suffered.

Deputy head Steve Arbery telephoned Sally Mills, senior adviser on safeguarding children in education for Worcestershire, who suggested he should talk to the deputy headteacher at Wolverley, where Dana had originally disclosed her relationship with Jaspal Riat.

Miss Mills told Worcester Coroner Geraint Williams she also advised Mr Arbery to call a meeting of all the professionals involved in Dana’s care to assess her risk level.

It was only when Mr Arbery phoned Vicki Blake, the Wolverley school’s deputy head, that she became aware that Dana had moved to Bishop Perowne.

Miss Mills added that, following an investigation, she found that there had not been enough sharing of information between schools or from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to education staff.

“The risk assessment was not put in place until she had tried to self harm,” said Miss Mills.

“Enough information should have been available prior to her starting, rather than after something happened.

“Professionals such as CAMHS would be able to advise the school about the level of risk. In Dana’s case, the risk was high.

“They should have been able to give the school some guidance about how high the risk was and the triggers that cause it to happen.”

Miss Mills added that, as a result of a management report, procedures had been improved so that, if a child had made a suicide bid, CAMHs and children’s services should inform the school to keep them safe.

Vicki Blake told the inquest earlier about a meeting with Dana and her parents soon after the teenager made her abuse revelation in an English class.

She said the GCSE student - who normally gained As and Bs and was "incredibly bright" - seemed to think she was in a "soap romance".

“She, on the one hand, wanted everybody to know about it and disclose it more publicly but then wanted to shut that and move back to Dana.

“It was as though Dana wanted to step into the discovery role and then step out of it.”

Mrs Blake also said there had not been much reaction from the meeting, although she would have expected "shock, horror and disbelief".

Following the meeting, which Mrs Blake described as "long and difficult", Dana’s mother made an appointment for the youngster with their GP and the deputy head reported the issue to child social workers and police.

Mrs Blake said she heard nothing more from social services or police for some days, despite repeated calls.

She called police again on April 29, 2009, after hearing that Dana had revealed on facebook that she was still having a relationship with her karate instructor, that he was going to be arrested but they would run away together.

Mrs Blake said she did not see Dana again until May 5, when she came to school "clearly distressed" and the teenager accused her of "ruining" her life by telling everybody.

On May 6, Dana’s mother telephoned Mrs Blake to say the pupil was on her way to hospital after taking an overdose.

The hearing continues.

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