Vi­o­lence hits new high in schools

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - THE SAUCE - JACK MORPHET

VI­O­LENCE be­came in­creas­ingly com­mon in pub­lic schools in just three years and teach­ers who be­came tar­gets were hos­pi­talised, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port which cat­a­logues the worst in­ci­dents.

But, de­spite school­yard vi­o­lence spik­ing by two-thirds be­tween 2015 and 2017, the num­ber of stu­dents ex­pelled fell over the same pe­riod and sus­pen­sions re­mained close to un­changed.

The vi­o­lence is ex­posed in a Safety and Se­cu­rity Direc­torate com­pi­la­tion of in­ci­dent re­ports made by school prin­ci­pals to the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Fis­ticuffs was re­placed by knives in sev­eral in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing when one stu­dent in W Wagga Wagga was stabbed af­ter they al­legedly “ac­ci­dent tally pushed” their attacker in July 2017.

In the same month, a teacher on play­ground duty in Chit­t­away Bay had to con­vince an eight-year-old boy from Berke­ley Vale to hand over a knife he was hold­ing to his school­mate’s throat, and a stu­dent at a school in Hol­royd pulled a knife out of their pants when they be­came an­gry about the out­come of a game.

The most vi­o­lent schools were in Syd­ney’s south­west, at sub­urbs such as Mac­quarie Fields, Glen­field and Ca­sula.

Teach­ers who in­ter­vened to quell vi­o­lence reg­u­larly re­quired hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion and coun­selling. A teacher from a school near Fair­field was last year “punched and kicked vi­o­lently” af­ter they stepped in to stop a fight.

Three staff at a school near Gos­ford were last year treated for phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal in­juries af­ter a stu­dent went on a de­struc­tive ram­page, punched and bit their class teacher, then grabbed a knife and swung it wildly.

Other in­ci­dents in­cluded: A TEACHER taken to hos­pi­tal in an am­bu­lance af­ter a stu­dent punched them in the back at a school in the Liver­pool re­gion in Au­gust 2017. A PRIN­CI­PAL and as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal from a Mid North Coast school both hit by pro­jec­tiles by a stu­dent throw­ing scis­sors and kick­ing, bit­ing and scratch­ing in Novem­ber 2017. A SCHOOL go­ing into lock­down when two stu­dents from near Wagga Wagga lit a fire in July 2017, with one later roam­ing the cam­pus with a knife.

Head of the NSW Se­condary Prin­ci­pals’ Coun­cil Chris Pres­land said the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and NSW Teach­ers Fed­er­a­tion cover them­selves by telling teach­ers they don’t have to step in to pro­tect stu­dents, but in re­al­ity teach­ers won’t stand idly by.

“The depart­ment and union cover them­selves, pol­icy wise, but if the teacher’s Johnny on the spot, they’re not go­ing to let vi­o­lence con­tinue,” Mr Pres­land said. “Ev­ery prin­ci­pal says the same thing to teach­ers, which is ‘we don’t ex­pect you to en­dan­ger your­self phys­i­cally’, but of course they get hurt be­cause they won’t stand back and watch some­one get hurt.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Pres­land, the in­crease in vi­o­lence and re­duc­tion in ex­pul­sions is not a sign teach­ers are go­ing soft on vi­o­lence, rather it’s that more prin­ci­pals are re­port­ing mi­nor in­stances of vi­o­lence such as threat­en­ing and in­tim­i­dat­ing be­hav­iour that doesn’t war­rant be­ing kicked out of school.

The Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion says schools are safe, de­spite the in­crease in vi­o­lence.

“To put the low num­ber of in­ci­dents into con­text, there were 1150 in­ci­dent re­ports in 2017 for ap­prox­i­mately 800,000 stu­dents across more than 2200 pub­lic schools,” a depart­ment spokesman said.

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