I wagged school once. I got caught. One of my relatives saw me and dobbed me in. My father was not happy. I didn't do it again.

Years later when I was living in Dannevirke someone said to me "Oh, I saw your daughter in Palmerston North yesterday." Really? She should have been at school.


Didn't stop her though. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the first or the last time she wagged and I'm also pretty sure all my children had a go at it at least once.


Lots of people wag school, not so much at primary but at secondary school it can be a bit of a game to see if you can outsmart the teacher and your parents.

I'm not saying it's okay because for some schools and parents truancy is a huge problem.

However, I think the comments from Hamilton's Fraser High School principal, Virginia Crawford, about the consequences of truancy were a little bit over the top.

I also think that some of the students are now taking advantage of the controversy and walking out of school "in protest" which gets them out of school - is that wagging?

In a speech last week the principal said students who wagged were "highly likely to go to prison, either commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim, be unemployed for the majority of their life, have a major health problem, die at an early age, have an addiction, gambling, drugs or smoking".

She was obviously trying to get her students' attention - and we don't know what the truancy rate is at the school - but maybe she could have toned it down.

Students at the school and parents are divided, some supporting the principal while others have staged a mass walkout.

Maybe she was trying shock tactics and if the speech hadn't been recorded by a student and shared on social media it most likely would have all ended in a few moans and groans from some students and parents.


Instead it has turned into a beast which keeps gaining momentum.

There has been some nasty graffiti about the principal but there is also support with one student suggesting "She [the principal] could have used better context within her speech with the use of consequences and stuff ... but if she said something like, 'You wag and you're gonna get a detention', no one would care. No one would listen."

Very true.

It seems in today's world the line between being soft and harsh has widened immensely. While I do think this time the principal has gone overboard I also understand her obvious frustration with truants.

The students have turned the cards on the principal so instead of everyone asking why there is a problem with truancy at the school - because there must be for the principal to come out so strongly about it - people are turning on the person effectively trying to help them.

Maybe it's time everyone calmed down and got on with their schoolwork.

Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.