Two separate stories about groups of school kids smoking cannabis have made the news recently. The cases highlight how widespread the problem is within the community in New Zealand and how inconsistently the punishment is dealt with by schools, time for a national strategy to deal more effectively with drug and alcohol use in schools perhaps?
In the first story, five pupils caught smoking the drug at Long Bay College, North Shore, Auckland, have been excluded:
One parent says three of the students’ parents applied to the school board of trustees to give their children a second chance. The parent says only one of the children brought the cannabis and the others used it. It was a silly mistake for the children to make but everyone deserves a second chance, the parent says. Only the child who supplied the cannabis should be excluded, he says.
He says there was a disciplinary meeting and at the moment the board said the decision was final. The board of trustees says it will consider the appeals lodged by the parents.
The North Shore Times understands the children involved were 15-year-olds and were caught smoking cannabis off school grounds…”
In the second story another group of five students, all under the age of 16, was also caught smoking cannabis, yet only one of them was excluded from school. Not only does it sends out mixed messages about drug use but it also says that some regions of the country are more tolerant of it than others:
One of five Napier Boys’ High School students disciplined for smoking marijuana has been excluded, after the group was caught with cannabis at school last week.
The group, all aged under 16, were day students at the school.
The returning four would face a number of strict conditions including random drug testing.
Principal Ross Brown said incidents like this “upset everybody” within the school and wider community.
“I think schools are the litmus test for the community and unfortunately, we inherit its problems including incidents such as these,” he said.
“It takes a village to raise a child and unfortunately in this case the village has let them down.”
Disciplinary decisions of this nature were dealt with by the school’s Board of Trustees which had five new members when the incident occurred.
“I was pleased with how the new group handled the situation, they coped well.”
When a student is excluded they are made to leave the school but an effort is made to find another to take them.
“We’re working with people now to find something.”
A student under the age of 16 can only be excluded from a school, not expelled.”
Our regular readers will know that it’s not just the high schools that are a “litmus test” for communities riddled with drug problems, the primary schools are afflicted too. However, primary kids there are treated a lot more leniently.
We’re off the opinion that it’s not just the “villages” that are letting down kids, the schools are as much to blame. Perhaps if they stamped-out this problem at primary level it wouldn’t have extended into the high schools? Perhaps if the same rules were applied evenly across the country some areas may even start to clean up their acts?
In November 2009 we wrote this blog piece : Drugs Battle Fought on School Playgrounds:
Today’s Dom Post is highlighting the alarming rates of drug abuse in young people, with children as young as 12 being caught with drugs in school playgrounds. The Post reports that
“last year, schools stood down 1184 pupils for drugs, suspended 815, and expelled 30. Education Ministry statistics dating back to 2006 show rates of standdowns and expulsions for drugs have increased but suspensions have decreased.
Police used drug sniffer dogs in 12 schools in Greater Wellington in the past eight months in an attempt to halt the trend.
One Wairarapa school, which police would not name, has flushed out eight pupils in the past three months with drugs on them at school.“
In September we commented on reports that children as young as six were taking drugs to school, some defended themselves by saying they were for “show and tell” but it’s likely that many of the children were being used by their parents to deliver and collect drugs.
In June 2008 police told TVNZ that children taking and dealing drugs in school wasn’t a “new issue” after 5 nine year old boys were caught smoking cannabis at Owhata primary school in Rotorua and that this sort of thing had been going on for 20 years.
At around the same time a quantity of cannabis was seized at Longford Intermediate school in Gore, and Westlake Boys School in Auckland asked 12 students to leave after a dealing ring was uncovered.
Then in July of this year 10 students from Lindisfarne College, Hastings were expelled and another seven suspended after another cannabis dealing ring was busted.
NZ police say that most cannabis tinnie houses were selling-points for methamphetamine as well and that drugs and crime are well linked:
“Cannabis and meth come hand in hand now and there is a real link between drugs, stolen property, firearms and gangs.”
Kaitaia Kids’ drunken night of rampage / cannabis and the lost generation: ” you just have to look around to see the effects of the generational abuse of marijuana and other drugs around our area.Dilapidated homes, no one caring enough to do anything, the kids roaming around with no parents who give a damn, generations of welfare recipients, crime at all levels, car accidents, general apathy relating to just about everything.”
Armed robbery and drugs, 80% or more smoke weed in Gisborne… “a look at what the residents of Gisborne think about their town’s drug problem and the effects it’s having on their once pleasant community. It may come a surprise to anyone thinking about emigrating to the town ‘looking for a better quality of life’ to find out that New Zealand has these issues and how widespread the problem is..”