Revealed: Shocking number of teachers getting the bash from violent students

Beaten, bloodied, bashed and bruised - even the classroom isn't safe as teachers across New Zealand face violent assaults from their own students.

Last year, a shocking 580 primary school students and 119 secondary school students were stood down for assaulting school staff.

Another 27 composite school students and 22 special school students were stood down. A stand-down is the removal of a student for up to five days.

"Many of these children here would have presented with other problems in their lives when they came to school," New Zealand Principals' Federation president Whetu Cormick told Newshub.

"Whether they be learning, severe behaviour, mental health issues, or poverty or disadvantage has had an impact on their lives. And also trauma."

Revealed: Shocking number of teachers getting the bash from violent students

Six of the top 10 schools are in Christchurch, and Mr Cormick says the situation in the city is "almost beyond belief".

"We've got children who have post-traumatic stress syndrome following the earthquake," he says.

"They've got problems where they can't even get in front of a psychologist because there is too many traumatised kids and not enough specialists to help these young people."

The Ministry of Education says it recognises schools face "real challenges" supporting children and young people with challenging behaviour.

"We are also aware of the ongoing challenges schools in Christchurch and Kaikōura are facing and recognize that they are supporting children under stress in the post-quake period," the Ministry told Newshub.

Christchurch's Haeata Community Campus only opened a year ago, but was eighth-equal in total stand-downs - and third for the most students stood down for assaulting school staff.

Principal Andy Kai Fong says this first year provided "big challenges for Haeata".

"These numbers reflect the school's utter focus on providing a safe environment for its students and a zero-tolerance to anti-social behaviour," he told Newshub.

Revealed: Shocking number of teachers getting the bash from violent students

But the problems aren't limited to Christchurch. Other schools in the top 10 list included education centres in Whanganui, Mosgiel, Taranaki and Auckland.

"We do have groups of children who have been traumatised for lots of reasons, whether it be earthquakes, a father or mother dying, or dad being taken to prison, or someone's violently or sexually abused them," Mr Cormick says.

"Right across the country, P babies and methamphetamine - they're emerging as being another big group who are quite challenging in a school environment because teachers and psychologists don't help how to deal with them."

And the failure to deal with them is having serious consequences. Mr Cormick says discipline issues are forcing teachers out of the industry.

"Some teachers and some leaders are saying 'I've had enough'," he told Newshub.

"We've got teachers who have ended up in court, we've got police investigating teachers for restraining, we've got the Education Council disciplining teachers for restraining.

"So what's happening now is teachers are going 'this is too hard, hands-off, I'm not going to do anything'."

 A teacher was found guilty of misconduct after grabbing a student and carrying him to the principal's office.
A teacher was found guilty of misconduct after grabbing a student and carrying him to the principal's office. Photo credit: Newshub

The Ministry of Education says it's working hard to improve long-term outcomes for children, including a $35 million investment to expand the Behaviour Service. An additional 56 specialist staff will be recruited.

"We recognise that schools face real challenges supporting children and young people with challenging behaviour," the Ministry told Newshub.

"The Ministry provides a range of support to assist schools to manage challenging behaviour, including training workshops."

But Mr Cormick says the delay in getting these specialists is unacceptable, and wants more mental health and special education funding now.

"They were talking about this in November last year," he told Newshub.

"Well where are they? And they're still talking about employing them. It's not good enough."

Newshub.

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