The family of a 13 year old youth, who stabbed his teacher multiple times with a kitchen knife on 10 May, say that the boy had suffered in a school that had a “culture of bullying” – Te Puke High School.
This comes as no surprise since most of us know that “Kiwis are worst in the world for bullying” which was confirmed by a Massey University study in April of this year.
Furthermore it is known within the country that “New Zealand’s schools lead the world in bullying”, according to a major international study in December 2008 which showed that three quarters of primary school children had been bullied during one month.
Auckland paediatrician and former Children’s Commissioner Ian Hassall said the high rates of bullying reflected a “punitive culture”(source):
“It’s not just children who are bullied; adults bully as well,” Hassall said. “We do have a punitive society that rather believes in punishing people and threatening them, so it’s not surprising that children pick up on this and go punishing one another.”
“anti-bullying, and “character education” programmes were needed in primary and intermediate schools.
“The culture of brutality that we have tolerated for too long has to stop,”
One of the manifestations of that culture of brutality is the escalation of violence in New Zealand’s schools with attacks on both pupils and students. 777 teachers were assaulted at work during 2008-2009. There were 1167 incidents of violence, including 51 grievous assaults last year across all educational institutions, including 14 of stabbing and cutting with a weapon. (Statistics NZ)
Unfortunately this culture of brutality may have been a factor in the attack on Steve Hose on 10 May.
According to a Herald report:
“…A close whanau member told the Herald the family were still in shock, saying the attack was “completely out of character” for the Year 9 pupil.
The man said the boy was “little and placid” and a “quiet thinker” who, because of his size, had been a target for bullies.
He had been suspended from school this year for about three days after he apparently fought older students who he claimed had been picking on him.
The man said the school had a culture of bullying and people would write affidavits in support of his claim.
“There were a number of occasions where [the boy] was bullied. I am of the opinion this is what led him to do what he did.
“Still, this is completely out of character … we don’t condone what has happened but we need to know what could have triggered him to do something like this.”
The school principal, Alan Liddle, said the school had no formal record or allegations of the boy being bullied.
He said an internal investigation would deal with all circumstances surrounding the attack.
The boy had been in the care of his grandmother at her home in Manoeka on the outskirts of Te Puke after his parents split when he was a few months old.
He apparently had asthma, but enjoyed playing rugby league.
His relative said he was kindhearted and would help prepare his younger cousins for school and could be seen helping his elderly neighbours with their gardens and lawns.
“You could say he has had it pretty rough but things could have been worse if he had stayed with his parents.”
The report went on to say that security guards had been brought into the school but didn’t say if they were to be a permanent feature:
“Six security guards patrolled the school grounds yesterday. They said they were there for the students’ protection and to prevent them from being harassed.
Students the Herald spoke to gave mixed reports of the incident. A Year 9 pupil said the attacker had been “annoyed” by Mr Hose immediately before stabbing him.
Another student said the attack was completely unprovoked, and the boy had stabbed Mr Hose from behind while the teacher was sitting at his desk.”
Will it take the death of a teacher, or student, to make people take this issue seriously and make the government take the lead in combating New Zealand’s culture of brutality?