Student loses control

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A teenager who smashed up school property is part of a worrying trend worsened by poor help for troubled kids, an education expert says.

On Friday, a 15-year-old student at Taipa Area School had to be restrained after he smashed down two doors and a window in a fit of rage. It is the latest of several violent incidents in Northland schools involving pupils. Coincidentally, the incidents have followed concerns raised by Tai Tokerau Principals Association president Pat Newman over the time it takes to get help for children with violent tendencies.

Taipa Area School principal Pateriki Toi said the teen had become frustrated at lunch-time, and had been yelling and causing damage to property, injuring himself.

Mr Toi said he was proud of how the situation was handled by senior staff and classmates who restrained the student and calmed him down.

Police escorted the student off school grounds.

The student has been suspended and will be facing the board of trustees on Friday to discuss his future at the school.

Mr Newman said in his 30 years as a principal he had seen a rise in violent students in schools.

"The number of children coming through with serious psychological problems relating to anger has increased in the number and the degree of the problem.

"The problem is so bad we are ignoring the ones that aren't at the very high end of the scale.

"The system looks too much at fixing the family, instead of immediately helping the kid. We can't wait around while we fix the families."

"We get 55000 pages of observation notes by various people, and I don't know if that is what we need," he said.

Meanwhile, Mangakahia Area School principal Jacqui Tyrrell said extra counselling services were brought into the school after a 7-year-old broke four windows last week. The child, who was on his second day at the school when he caused the damage, is suspended and will be facing the board of trustees this week.

The Post-Primary Teachers' Association Northland central spokeswoman Adele Towgood said support networks that schools could once rely upon such as social welfare, special education support, health and psychological services and drug and alcohol counselling had been steadily eroded.

The PPTA has an "Anti-Violence Tool Kit" that assists schools with developing and implementing effective anti-violence procedures for when violence occurs towards staff and students. The two most recent incidents follow concerns raised by Mr Newman over a violent 6-year-old, and a May 28 incident at Tikpunga High School where staff needed help to subdue an angry 14-year-old.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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