‘Social devils’ haunt Bay kids, say principals

Bay of Plenty Times 11 November 2007
Witnessing a violent row. Two broken families becoming one. Fathers who don’t keep in contact. Parents who binge on drugs and alcohol. Parents financially stressed. These are just some of the “social devils” children as young as five are experiencing in the Western Bay – prompting primary principals to call for full-time counsellors in their schools to help deal with the problem. Principals this week told the Bay of Plenty Times they had a need for more counsellors in schools to address serious social issues in the homes of some students. These students, they say, are coming to school with “baggage” on their young shoulders. Others are turning up hungry and with little sleep. Full-time services such as counselling are traditionally available only in secondary schools. ….Mr Johnson and five other Tauranga school chiefs the Bay Times spoke to have backed a national report issued and commissioned by the New Zealand Foundation for Character Education on student behaviour. The report suggests deteriorating classroom conduct reflects the rising number of dysfunctional homes. It said the family unit was not as strong, cohesive and functioning as it once was and the focus on raising children had weakened…..The principal of Otumoetai College, Dave Randell, agreed with part of the foundation report that said changes in the values systems of the community had come at a social cost. “Schools are reflective of our society.” Mr Randell said the decline of the church and the family at the centre of the community had changed a lot. For some young people, school was their only secure environment, he said.