Stabbing: More than 'boys will be boys'

By Brendan Manning, Sophie Ryan

It was naive to suggest there wasn't a problem in an area where two school-related stabbings occurred yesterday, a child psychologist has said, following a comment from the electorate's MP that "boys will be boys".

There were two stabbing incidents in the area yesterday, with an 11-year-old boy stabbed in the head at a local school, and two teens taken to hospital last night after another unrelated event.

Mangere MP Su'a William Sio down-played any problem in the area when he appeared on TVNZ's Breakfast show this morning, saying "boys will be boys".

"I think it frightens anybody when you hear of young children in a situation where allegedly there is a weapon being used, but that's symptomatic of a community that has a high proportion of young people in it.

"Whenever you've got young people, you're going to get this kind of situation from time to time, although most of us do not accept that the allegations of weapons would be part of a schoolboy fight."

"I would just say to those boys; 'grow up'," Mr Sio said.

However, child psychologist David Stebbing said it was probably naive to suggest there weren't issues with young people's behaviour in the community.

"For millennia kids have had fights ... but stabbing people isn't normative.

"If you're looking at the meta level, then obviously you are talking about depravation, family difficulties - all the things that you associate with poor outcomes for kids."

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Interviews with children who may have witnessed the stabbing at the small Christian school may take several more days, as the victim remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Specialist interviewers spoke with some of the children at Pacific Christian School in Auckland today, after scissors were used in the schoolyard stabbing of an 11-year-old boy.

A meeting for staff, children and parents was held at the school in Mangere this afternoon.
Parents parked close to the school hall and came in to hear about the police investigation in to a fight that left an 11-year-old boy fighting for his life after being stabbed with scissors.

Police and Victim Support were supporting the injured boy's family. He was listed as being in a critical condition in Starship Hospital tonight.

Police were also working with Child Youth and Family (CYF) over another 11-year-old boy who was believed to be involved in the incident. They were not seeking anyone else.

The child's parents were co-operating fully with police and CYF to manage his care.
School manager Lisita Paongo said the meeting with parents and students this afternoon was her "main concern" and that she would not be speaking with media. She said she would release a statement to media "in due time".

Parents leaving the after-school meeting would not comment to media waiting outside.
A spokesman for Ministry of Social Development said CYF's focus in the wake of the incident was to ensure children and family had appropriate support.

"It is standard procedure for us to work with Police and the Ministry of Education when incidents occur involving children and young people in a school setting," he said.

"This is currently an active police investigation and it is not appropriate for us to comment further."

Counties Manukau police spokeswoman Katherine Manaton said the investigation into the incident at the school was still in its early stages.

"There's still a lot of people to speak with.

"[The investigation] is proceeding as per the operational requirements."

Counties Manukau Police district criminal investigations manager Detective Inspector Dave Lynch said the incident was witnessed by a number of other children and a joint police, CYF and Ministry of Education team would be working with them over coming days, conducting interviews and providing support.

"Police have a good understanding of what occurred at the school."

The investigation focus in the coming days was to complete interviews with the young children who were in the classroom when the incident occurred, Mr Lynch said.

"Due to their ages they will require specialist interviewing capability and support."

Broadcaster and Tongan community leader Setaita Miller said there was widespread concern about what was going on at the school.

"This is a continuous saga with this church. It has been on our news nearly every week in the last year and this year.

"With this incident, again, it is a great concern."

The school needed to be seriously overhauled and "get things sorted", Ms Miller said.

"For example; they didn't have qualified staff to look after the first aid side of things. I wonder whether they have any surveyed kits on the premises ... it's very concerning."
A large split in the church had occurred last year and as a result many parents had pulled their children out of the school, Ms Miller said.

It was likely more would following yesterday's incident, she said.

The private co-educational school caters for children in primary and intermediate years. It sits within the Tokaikolo Church complex, which runs the school. Roll information showed it had 84 students, 83 of them Pasifika, most of whom are Tongan.

Its most recent Educational Review Office report noted school managers were unable to assure inspectors they had systems in place for managing all aspects of providing a safe environment for students. No member of staff held a current first-aid certificate at the time of inspection in December, 2012.

The church also made headlines in 2012 when its president came under fire for asking the congregation to fundraise $100,000 a month.

Meanwhile, a teenaged boy from Southern Cross Campus in Mangere East remained in Middlemore Hospital in a stable condition after being stabbed in a fight outside the school gate on Wickman Way yesterday afternoon.

Police would not comment on the investigation today.

- APNZ

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