Teachers say they are struggling to cope with growing numbers of children who are violent – and often still in nappies.
Two-thirds of 380 mainly primary and early childhood teachers raised their hands at the NZ Educational Institute conference in Rotorua when asked if they had been hit or assaulted by children recently.
Ministry data provided to the institute shows that the number of primary school children given this interim support jumped by 41 per cent from 1512 in 2013 to 2134 last year.
There was a similar 43 per cent jump, from 1775 to 2434, in the numbers of primary and intermediate school children stood down from schools because of physical assaults on other students or staff.
But Oliver said there were now not enough behaviour specialists available to provide long-term support after a short-term intervention.
“It’s not money that we want,” he said. “It’s experts to come in and give us support and advice.”
Kindergarten teacher Helen Hansen said she has had problems with a boy since he started aged 1. Now aged 4, he is pushing other children around.
“We restrain him. While we are restraining him he’s trying to head-butt you, bite you,” she said.
She said that in theory the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki could bring in support from other agencies, but she was unable to get their help because the boy’s parents denied that there was a problem.
“It’s heartbreaking. You have relationships with these children, you have loved them for a long time,” she said.
“In an ideal world you’d have community hubs – people that come in and work with families and with children without needing parental permission.”
An Oranga Tamariki spokesman said: “If a school or anyone has concern about the care and protection of an individual child they can contact us with their concerns and we will assess that child’s situation and if there is need for a response from Oranga Tamariki.”
Ministry of Education head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said the ministry understood that schools “face real challenges supporting children who have complex learning and behaviour needs”.
“Last year we spent about $95 million on behaviour assistance for about 10,000 children. This includes children receiving help from the Severe Behaviour Service and from specialist teachers in learning and behaviour,” she said.
“In this year’s Budget, the Government provided an additional $69 million over four years to support children with additional learning and behaviour needs. This includes $34.7 million over four years to expand services for 1000 extra children with severe behavioural difficulties.”
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