A Better Life For The Kids

Continuing in our series of Migrant Stories: first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.

Today’s tale arrived via a message left on this blog. This is Steve’s story, where he tells of a widespread and insidious problem within schools in New Zealand  – bullying. For an update to this story see Bullying in NZ Schools – A Harsh Lesson

Steve’s family is not alone in their experience of a school failing to deal effectively with bullying behaviour:  The NZ Human Rights Commission recently released a report that identified significant human rights issues in relation to violence in New Zealand Schools. An organisation called Stop the Violence is just one of many working hard to raise awareness of the issue and to provide support. Even the police recognise bullying as a “big problem in New Zealand“. The ‘harden-up / blame the victim / culture of brutality’  is a significant factor in the country having one of the worst teen and young person suicide rates in the world, 94 youths in New Zealand committed suicide in 2007.

A better life for the kids

We hear a lot of people who moved to New Zealand for this very reason. It was in fact quite high on our list too.

Sadly, if our own experience is any judgement, I would say avoid this country at all cost if you have young children.

We’ve already written pages and pages on the matter and even made a few videos about it, but to cut a long story short, our kids have been traumatised by the abuse they suffered at a local school: our eldest daughter was being regularly bullied at school (one all our kids attended) and despite the fact that Mark Thornton, the school manager, kept assuring us that he took the matter seriously, nothing ever changed.

Finally, after four months of us complaining about the bullying, him saying he took this very seriously and nothing ever changing, a meeting was set up with us, him, the college of teachers and the trustees to discuss the matter further.

We were also intending on bringing another parent to that meeting, one who was an expert in social inclusion.

However, on the day of that meeting, they cancelled it and kicked us out instead without ever explaining their reasoning.

Many parents were on our side until then, saying how happy they were that someone was finally doing something about the bullying. Now, they’ve all turned their backs on us, siding with management.

To make matters worse, the school we attended, The Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School, is private non-integrated, which means that the Ministry of Education has no power there and you’re not covered by the Education Act, something we learned when we complained to them: despite our 20 pages of complaints and all the evidence we amassed against the school, the ministry told us they were satisfied with how the matter was handled!

But don’t think that this happened only because this was a private non-integrated Steiner school. According to the links below, this particular problem is country-wide:

“School Bullying Reflects `Culture Of Brutality’”
http://www.guide2.co.nz/politics/news/school-bullying-reflects-culture-of-brutality039-dunne/11/4634

and

“NZ schools lead world in bullying”
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/761221

If you want more details of our own experience, please visit:
http://www.titirangisteinermessenger.com

This page summarises the situation nicely, if I do say so myself :-)
http://www.titirangisteinermessenger.com/TSM/0911.html

Thanks to Steve for giving us the opportunity to highlight this important issue again. We’ll leave you with the words of  Cindy Ciro, New Zealand’s  Children’s Commissioner:

“It appears that we do have high levels of physical and emotional bullying in New Zealand schools in comparison to other countries. This is historical. We’ve had this for quite some time in our schools.”

6 thoughts on “A Better Life For The Kids

  1. one pair of parents was going to sue the Ministry in 2006 (Daniel Anderson case). I do not know what happened with that though. I don’t think anything was accomplished. There is so much bullying that goes on that the government does not want to open the floodgates by compensating anyone. It would open the doors. Thin end of the wedge. IMO.

  2. Poor kid, she shouldn’t have to suffer abuse like that.

    Does anyone know if a parent has ever sued a school for damages for harm done to their child by bullying? or if such a course of action is available in NZ? It happens in other countries. If schools had compensation payments to make perhaps they would take the matter a lot more seriously than they do now.

  3. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/3086800/Gang-mentality-bullying-claim-as-girl-quits-school

    An 11-year-old girl has been pulled from school amid allegations of bullying by her classmates, including an email that suggested she should kill herself.

    The girl’s mother says the Christchurch school should have done more to stop the bullying before it spiralled into a “gang mentality” by which her daughter felt persecuted by her entire class.

    “It’s the little kick under the desk, it’s the `You do realise everyone hates you, don’t you?’ It’s the fact nobody calls her by her name, they all call her `the ugly bitch’,” the girl’s mother said.

    The situation had spiralled after her daughter appeared on television, gathering a small amount of fame. “Kids just get jealous,” her mother said.

  4. It’s unfortunate that in New Zealand, being “natural” seems to equate with being “feral”.

  5. Thanks for posting our story. We are actually trying to see if we can help change the law in this country to stop private non-integrated schools having to right to behave like cowboys.

    Have a look here and see if you feel you can help us and the children attending those schools by signing the petition:

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/pni/

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