Violence and abuse rampant in schools

The Dominion Post 22 July 2008

Violent, disruptive or misbehaving pupils were suspended, stood down or kicked out of school more than 27,000 times last year, with 14-year-olds the worst culprits. Teachers say the figures reflect growing behavioural problems and violence. Many feel under threat of physical attack. The most common offences were continued disobedience, assaulting other pupils, verbally abusing teachers or drug-related misconduct. Examples included pupils selling drugs to classmates on school grounds, use of weapons in unprovoked attacks on pupils, bullying and assaults on staff. Boys were more than twice as likely to be disciplined as girls, Maori pupils had much higher misconduct rates than non-Maori and 14 year-olds offended the most.

..Most cases were one-off incidents, with offenders stood down for a few days before returning to class. More than 1600 pupils were removed from school for serious misconduct, though most were under the legal school-leaving age of 16 so had to be enrolled at another school or alternative education provider. But overall numbers fell by nearly 2000 compared with a year earlier, suspensions hit an eight-year low and early-leaving exemptions for 15-year-olds halved. Mr Carter hailed the drop as evidence schools were using more resources to deal with badly behaved kids, keeping them engaged at school longer and “reducing the levels of unacceptable student behaviour”. ..However, teachers and principals reject suggestions behaviour has improved, saying schools are under pressure to cut suspension rates, even though staff often face violence and abuse.