Fury as 5-year-old told to clean toilets

By Alanah Eriksen, Alanah May Eriksen

A mother is seeking legal advice after her 5-year-old son was made to clean toilets by a caregiver at Chipmunks as punishment for supposedly hitting a girl in the face with a ball.

Oriwa Pehi-Livapulu says her son Noble could have become sick and has complained to Child, Youth and Family, which funds the after-school care programme in Rotorua, known as Oscar.

"They could have made him collect the dishes off the table but he was not given that option. He doesn't even clean the toilet at home, he's only 5 years old. I draw the line at that. It's a big no-no.

"My mana has been taken away from me. Noble's spirit has been trampled on."

Ms Pehi-Livapulu told the Herald she had spoken to the parents of the 6-year-old girl who her son had apparently hit in the face and they were unaware of the incident, which happened on Tuesday last week. Noble has denied hitting the girl on purpose.

"I asked him, 'Bubba, did you hit or slap her?' He said, 'No.' What happened was he was trying to get a ball through the hoop and he missed and got her so I don't know whether she was walking past or she was standing in the way or what."

Ms Pehi-Livapulu, a trainee teacher at Waikato University, is annoyed she was not told about the incident until the next day when she went to pick up Noble and her 8-year-old son Elcarim.

She has taken her children out of Chipmunks but is demanding answers from the centre owner, Doug Lambert.

Mr Lambert did not return Herald calls yesterday but has said Noble was made to squirt cleaning product into a toilet before scrubbing it with a brush while being supervised by the 40-year-old caregiver who punished him.

The caregiver was new and had been told she must not use cleaning toilets as a punishment.

Ms Pehi-Livapulu will seek legal advice over the matter at an appointment with lawyer Annette Sykes on Friday.

Yesterday CYF would not be drawn on whether making a child clean a toilet was appropriate. It is understood the organisation is awaiting a written complaint.

"Parents who are concerned about the care practices at their Oscar provider can be assured that any complaints received will be managed within our formal complaints process," said approvals manager Dave Kerse.

CYF received two complaints about the centre in August 2006 about the collection of children for after-school care. They were resolved successfully, he said.

"When last assessed in February this year it was found that Chipmunks provided a good standard of care."

- NZ Herald

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