Family First NZ says that schools are being forced to turn a ‘blind eye’ to increasingly unacceptable behaviour and violence because of a drive by the Ministry of Education to reduce the numbers of suspensions and expulsions.
The comments follow a Close Up programme which highlighted a vicious and unprovoked attack and yet the offender is still at the school and the victim (and family) is still be victimised by the inappropriate response of the school.
“It seems ironic that as we are saying no to violence within families and our community, schools are tolerating an unacceptable level of violence, sexual and offensive behaviour and intimidation,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
A Ministry of Education report earlier this year trumpeted a fall in school suspensions, and at the time Minister of Education Chris Carter heralded it as a ‘concerted effort by schools supported by the ministry’.
“Yet Education Ministry figures in 2007 revealed that violence and dangerous behaviour is on the rise in schools with more pupils assaulting teachers and classmates, and the Post Primary Teachers Association called for more resources to deal with difficult pupils and for zero tolerance toward violence and abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Ironically, Family First uncovered figures which the Ministry had buried showing a 37 per cent surge in primary school disciplinary actions. Primary schools are reporting increasingly violent misbehaviour by children as young as five.
The presidents of the Canterbury and national principals’ associations backed up recent comments by a high school principal who said “Because it’s an election year, the Government is trying to make sure the statistics look really good.”
“The Ministry of Education is burying both its head and the extent of the problem in the sand, and both staff and young people are being put at risk by the unacceptable behaviour of a minority who know that the consequences are negligible,” says Mr McCoskrie.