Under 10s threatening knives, suicide – Northland Principal

By Dean Nathan

Children with behavioural issues will suffer. That's the view from the Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association urging the public to support their stance against the Government to increase more resources to address this issue.

The aggression of troubled kids is seen on a regular basis at schools across Northland.

Te Tai Tokerau Principals Association President Pat Newman told Te Kāea, “Desks been thrown constant fighting at the high end.  Threats of knives threats of suicide and by the way we're talking five, six, seven, eight, nine and 10-year-olds. We're not talking old kids. To be honest, if we don’t get the help, we might as well just put them in a van and take them to Ngawha Prison now. It will cost a $150,000 a year.”

Newman says it's the third time since 2008 that they have gone public on the matter. 

Dr David Wells from the Ministry of Education gave the following statement, “We absolutely understand the challenges principals are facing in Northland and that's why in 2016 they increased teacher aide spending by 20% for children with behavioural issues in Northland.”

Whau Valley Primary school Principal Robert Clarke says, “It's difficult to go public saying we need to ban these troublesome kids. But it's a signal to Government that they're still not resourcing us sufficiently to address the problem. Their focus is on kids from middle and upper-class backgrounds and not those from underprivileged families.”

Newman says, “I get fed up with the Ministry coming back and saying we've increased it by 20% and we've done this.  If you increase nothing by 20% it's not a hell of a lot.”

Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association says the issue can be addressed with a stroke of the minister's pen by diverting part of the $300mil being held to fund the Communities of Learning project to provide the real services and help needed for children with behavioural issues.

Clarke says, “It's a waste of time accentuating the positives, which is what the politicians do when we're telling them that there are some major bad signs in education. This is one that's growing and we need to address it now.”

Newman says the actual issue isn’t with the kids, “It's with the authorities and various ministries that won't give us the tools that we need to help these children.  That's the real issue!”

Northland principals say the issue takes priority for them ahead of the improvement in reading, maths and speaking skills.