Violence blamed on removal of corporal punishment


Last updated 11:18 29/08/2009

A big increase in the number of primary school children suspended for violent acts is being blamed on the removal of corporal punishment in schools.

Figures from the Ministry of Education show a 88 per cent increase in suspensions of eight-year-olds from 2000 to 2008 for assaults on classmates, a 73 per cent rise for seven-year-olds, a 70 per cent increase for six–year-olds while the suspensions over the same period had increased by 33 per cent for five-year-olds.

“It is significant that as schools have removed corporal punishment, schools have become more violent,” Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said today.

“School yard bullying by pupils on other pupils and staff is now the new form of ‘corporal punishment’ in schools.

“We have a generation of children who have been victims of a social experiment of how best to raise our kids and the role of correction.

“And it continues with the smacking debate – another example of undermining parental authority and `state knows best how to raise your kids’.”

Mr McCroskie said student behaviour would continue to deteriorate “for as long as we tell them that their rights are more important than their responsibilities”.

Auckland Primary Principals Association president Marilyn Gwilliam said schools were struggling to handle the children because by law, they were not allowed to touch children to calm them down, even when they “kick and they bite and they hit.”

In many cases, schools had no choice but to stand children down, she told The Weekend Herald.

The Post Primary Teachers Association is set to discuss solutions to combating the schoolyard violence at its annual meeting next month.

Because of schools limited number of in-school counsellors and teacher aides, the association’s advisory group on conduct problems will suggest that schools need access to trained psychologists and social workers.

Teacher conduct cases hit high

Teacher conduct cases hit high

By LANE NICHOLS – The Dominion Post | Thursday, 08 January 2009

Nearly 1300 teachers have faced allegations of serious misconduct, violence, viewing pornography, sexual misconduct, dishonesty, alcohol and drug use, or incompetency since 2002.

Last year was the worst on record, with 233 formal complaints lodged against teachers with the Teachers Council nearly a third for alcohol and drugs.

But unions say teachers are easy targets for “spurious and vexatious” complaints by aggrieved parents, who are free to make formal allegations often groundless to employers and police.

“There are some parents who won’t be happy unless they see somebody getting punished,” Educational Institute president Frances Nelson said.

“And it doesn’t matter how guilty that teacher is, they still want a pound of flesh.”

There are 90,000 registered teachers, but since 2005, just 40 have been referred to the council’s disciplinary tribunal for formal proceedings over the most serious misconduct allegations.

Nearly all those cases resulted in censure and 26 teachers were struck off for misbehaviour mostly for sexual misconduct or viewing pornography.

The cases included:

Former Wairarapa College drama teacher Luke McIndoe eloped with a 16-year-old pupil after they developed a sexual relationship.

A teacher in her 30s had sex with a secondary school pupil, later saying a breakup with her fiance left her “emotionally vulnerable”.

Retired Havelock North principal Ian James Wilson was convicted on child pornography charges after 9000 illegal images were found on his home computer.

Figures made available under the Official Information Act show misconduct, including inappropriate communications with pupils or parents, was the most common allegation against teachers. Then came incompetency, violence, alcohol and drugs, dishonesty, sexual misconduct and pornography.

Since 2004, misconduct complaints have been investigated by the council’s complaints assessment committee.

It can dismiss complaints if groundless or vexatious, recommend a teacher’s suspension for reasons of safety, impose conditions or refer the most serious cases to the disciplinary tribunal for possible deregistration.

Post Primary Teachers Association president-elect Kate Gainsford said teaching was a public job and there had always been spurious complaints.

“Sometimes they’re just not substantiated enough to take further. There is a concern if there is a lack of natural justice, if people are criticised or attacked unfairly. But that’s why the process is so important.”

Teachers supported having an independent body to assess complaints and discipline wayward colleagues, provided the process was fair and robust.

Concerned teachers seek police help

Perhaps schools are the wrong place for these children.

Concerned teachers seek police help

4:00AM Friday Oct 03, 2008
By Martha McKenzie-Minifie
Teachers are asking for more help from police to handle students who act up in class, as they abandon a suggestion to establish “timeout rooms” in high schools for troublemakers.

A new disruptive students paper by the Post Primary Teachers Association’s Hutt Valley region showed teachers faced verbal abuse, physical attacks in class and had students turn up with weapons or high on drugs.

A survey, released at this week’s PPTA conference, found almost one in 10 teachers surveyed were frightened of students with severe behaviour problems.

Hutt Valley region executive member Martin Henry said delegates yesterday voted to pressure the Government to call a conference where teachers, police, Child Youth and Family and other groups could work directly together.

“It’s not just teachers that are going to solve this problem – there’s a whole lot of societal factors that come in as well,” said Mr Henry. “These students don’t come to schools without a whole lot of issues.”

He said the earlier suggestion to push for timeout rooms in secondary schools as a place to send problem students in the heat of the moment was yesterday withdrawn.

“They were looking at the room and it’s not the room that’s the important thing – it’s what you do with the kids,” said Mr Henry.

Members also voted to push ahead with a controversial plan for the PPTA to work to amend legislation to allow information sharing about students with a history of high-risk behavioural problems that may put members of a school at risk.

Mr Henry said teachers were frustrated to discover new students had behaviour problems they were not warned about because of privacy laws.

“It’s not about blacklisting kids or schools, it’s about doing better things for them.”

Schools in behaviour battle

Schools in behaviour battle

By JOHN HARTEVELT – The Press | Wednesday, 01 October 2008

High-decile schools grappling with misbehaving students want more help, as a new report reveals they use less than a quarter as many social workers as low-decile schools.

Two teacher conferences under way in Wellington this week are discussing strategies to deal with increasingly extreme incidents of disruptive behaviour in the classroom.

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), which represents 47,000 primary school staff, yesterday issued guidelines for dealing with troublesome pupils.

NZEI vice-president Ian Leckie said extreme misbehaviour crossed class boundaries.

“You’ve only got to look at the child who is very spoiled and from a very well-to-do background whose mother won’t buy them the lollies in the supermarket,” Leckie said.

“What that indicates, too, is that some of these behaviours even manifest before they start school,” he said.

“The ongoing need to be able to deal with that is very, very clear.”

A report by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) released today said there was “a very big difference” between the number of social workers in schools based on socio-economic factors.

A survey showed 81 per cent of primary school principals at decile one and two schools had or were considering the introduction of social workers, compared with only 17% of principals in decile nine and 10 schools. Social workers were available or in the offing at 25% of decile three to eight schools.

Leckie said increasing the number of guidance counsellors at primary schools was “an absolute priority”.

“And that is because of the inordinate amount of time that is taken to deal with every incident,” he said.

The Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) opened its conference yesterday, with strong interest from teachers in a workshop to discuss bad behaviour.

“People were all supportive but wanted more, really,” said Martin Henry, who chaired the PPTA workshop.

“Clearly the issue of highly disruptive kids goes across all deciles,” he said.

“It may be that you don’t need a whole social worker in your school but you need access to the sort of resources that you get from CYFS (Child, Youth and Family), from the police and from the other things that are on offer that’s the sort of discussion going around at the moment.”

Henry said there was a systemic problem with the way society dealt with marginal children, but there was more that teachers themselves could do within the classroom.

The NZCER report shows at least half of the nation’s schools had not had training on key areas such as positive approaches to student behaviour. Only one-third of principals said their school could afford the professional development it needed.

“We know that the more professional teachers are the better their impact on kids,” Henry said.

“We want to see more of that and we want to see it more tailored to the individual schools.”