A primary school principal in the Republic of Ireland was recovering at home last night after a pupil broke her nose with a headbutt.
The incident at St Mary's Boys' School in Limerick city was reported to gardai, but the pupil cannot be prosecuted because he is too young.
The Irish Independent understands that the pupil, who comes from a very large family in Limerick city, head butted Geraldine Wallace when she leaned down to talk to him in class on Monday.
Mrs Wallace was given immediate assistance by shocked staff members and emergency services were alerted. Gardai arrived and spoke to her, but no formal investigation is proceeding.
It is understood that one bone was broken in Mrs Wallace's nose. She now has to wait for bruising and swelling to decrease before the nose can be reset.
An informed source said the incident happened as the school principal leaned forward to talk to the young child over a "behavioural issue". He struck Mrs Wallace full force with his forehead on her nose as she began to speak to him.
Yesterday, the school principal was absent from St Mary's as she recovered from her ordeal at home. A family friend said she was fine apart from "obvious trauma".
"The unexpected nature of what happened is a lot to deal with, but she'll be okay," the friend said.
The incident at the primary school is regarded as completely isolated and unprecedented.
St Mary's Boys' School underwent a whole-school evaluation as part of a nationwide Department of Education and Skills investigation before the summer and is considered to be one of the best-performing primary schools in the country.
Local councillor John Gilligan said Mrs Wallace was one of the most popular members of the community.
"Geraldine came out of Assumpta Park here and everybody would know her. She is not only the school principal, but she is also a neighbour and friend to a lot of people who would have sent their children to St Mary's," Mr Gilligan said.
He described the assault as "disgusting".
"We were all very sorry to hear she had been assaulted by a boy as young as this in this fashion and it does raise questions," he said.
"It is something which will appal everyone in the community. Geraldine has shown tremendous dedication and also worked as a teacher in the school before becoming principal. On behalf of the local community and everyone in the area, I would like to send Mrs Wallace and her family our best wishes and hope to see her back in the school in the very near future," Mr Gilligan said.
In 2006, the age of criminal responsibility was raised from seven to 12. Children under 12 cannot be charged with an offence. There is an exception, however, for children aged 10 or 11, who can be charged with murder, manslaughter, rape or aggravated sexual assault.
Where a child under 14 is charged with an offence, no further proceedings can be taken without the consent of the DPP.
Source Irish Independent