Secondary Principals Association president Patrick Walsh says offenders are getting younger and tougher penalties for parents are needed.
Last year 241 students were expelled for drug offences, and 2174 suspended – 298 of them 12 and under. In a 2010 case, a 12-year-old took a kilogram of cannabis to school to sell, reportedly for a family member.
“Nearly always they come from dysfunctional homes where substance abuse is rife,” Walsh said. “We take a light-handed approach but those parents need to be accountable.”
He was concerned at a trend towards younger students using drugs and violence, or sexually assaulting others. Schools could try to modify behaviour but much of that work was undone in the home.