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’”
“NZ schools lead world in bullying”
If you want more details of our own experience, please visit:
This page summarises the situation nicely, if I do say so myself “
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.”