Bullying in the early childhood education sector is pushing good teachers out and the Government is being urged to act urgently.
A third of early childhood teachers and supervisors had been bullied over a 12-month period, according to a new a report from ChildForum.
The number of bullying incidents reported by teachers has risen by 25 per cent since the last survey three years ago.
ChildForum's chief executive Dr Sarah Alexander said bullying in the early childhood sector was a major worry and should not be accepted or tolerated.
Bullying was used as a way to manage and get rid of teachers and was sometimes directed from teachers and caregivers as well, the report found.
"The early childhood education sector is losing good teachers because of bullying and keeping it hidden is not helping the sector to be the best it could be for children.
"It can mean that teachers find it difficult to speak up when problems exist in other areas such as when they have too many children to care for or if more resources for children are needed," Alexander said.
She urged the Ministry of Education to develop an anti-bullying policy and provide training around how to identify, prevent and deal with it.
"It must provide a clear message to service providers that they must act on complaints of bullying while ensuring the safety of the complainant. "
It was particularly worrying in the early education sector because it was an environment young children were also exposed to and raised concern about what messaged they were getting, she said.
Alexander also expressed concern about what messages young children may be getting.
"We do not want children to be seeing and learning that bullying behaviour is acceptable and that it is okay to have control over another person in this way."
The report is one of a series being released by the national network for early childhood services and independent research organisation based on a survey of 900 workers carried out in 2017.
An earlier report by ChildForum found childcare work was high risk with staff suffering back injuries from handling children, hearing loss from the loud noise and others experiencing mental health problems, while some had multiple complaints.