Teachers are trying to fathom why an increasing number of kids, some as young as 5, bring weapons to school.

Children as young as 5 are among the alarming number of pupils who have been suspended or stood down for having weapons at school.

Figures the Herald on Sunday obtained through the Official Information Act show more than 1000 students have been removed from schools for possessing or using a weapon in the past two years.

At least 700 cases involved knives, blades, hammers, scissors and guns, including replicas.

In one case, a 5-year-old boy was stood down for five days for violent behaviour - brandish-ing a weapon - at teachers and students in the classroom. The type of weapon used has not been disclosed.


Ministry of Education curriculum and performance manager Jeremy Wood refused to name the school to protect the child's identity. However, he said the boy was removed from class after the incident in 2009 and received support from special education services for more than a year.

"He has not received any further stand-downs or suspensions, and no further support is currently needed," Wood said.

Educational psychologist Fiona Ayers said it was a huge concern the boy had become violent at such a young age. "That's scary. What is going on in that kid's life that makes him feel he is so unsafe he has to carry a weapon?"

She said there were several reasons children carried weapons: protection from bullies, issues at home, influence from television or video games and simply thinking it was "cool" to have weapons.

"It's more the impulsive ones doing it. I have heard of kids who have left school and gone home then come back with weapons because they are upset. They are the ones more likely to use them."

Unskilled parents were a large part of the problem because children were copycats.

'Some of them, we do have to look at the culture of the environment they are in ... if family or uncles or people in the neighbourhood are doing that sort of thing then it might be one option for the child."

Te Puke High School maths teacher Steve Hose, 53, was stabbed in the neck and shoulder four times last year by a 13-year-old student from a dysfunctional family. The student took his own life about three months ago.

Hose said he ran to the front of the classroom after being stabbed and felt the blood dripping down his body. "I yelled at the kids, 'Get out'. I just needed them out of the way," Hose said. He looked in the "wide focused eyes" of his attacker and said, 'Are you sure you want to do this, mate?'. He looked at me dead in eyes and said, 'Yes'."

Education Minister Anne Tolley introduced new guidelines this year for teachers to search students for drugs and weapons which Hose supported. "But you need to get a senior team to direct the proceedings. One-on-one is a bad idea."

* Knife: 450

* Gun, including toy: 219

* Scissors: 36

* Blade: 12

* Hammer: 11

Total suspensions and stand downs between 2008 and 2010 for weapons-related incidents:
* Primary (Yr 1-8), 409;
* Secondary (Yr 9-15), 609;
* Composite (Yr 1-15), 49 (2008-2010)