Hamilton principal under fire for truancy rape comments

Students at a Hamilton high school are reportedly planning a "mass wag" after their principal said truant students were more likely to get raped.

Fraser High School principal Virginia Crawford made the comments at a full school assembly on Thursday, a staff member confirmed to Newshub.

In 10-minute a video uploaded to social media and supplied to Newshub, Ms Crawford can be heard warning students of the dangers of truancy. The video begins with her saying truants "don't want a job, they don't want nice things, they don't want to see the world because they'd rather pretend that they're a big person in Nawton or Dinsdale or Western Heights", western Hamilton suburbs which surround the school.

"Sadly, for those students their future is predictable and seemingly hopeless - the saddest part is that they don't see it for themselves. If they left the comfort zone of Nawton, Dinsdale, Western Heights or Hamilton, they wouldn't survive. They're more likely to be the thing that is used and repeatedly knocked down and out by the big world outside of Fraser."

She then made a number of claims regarding truant students' likelihood of success in life.

"Every student who walks out of the gate to truant is already a statistic of the worst kind, highly likely to go to prison, highly likely to 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 or problems, die at an early age, have an addiction - drugs, gambling, alcohol or smoking.

"The more you truant, the more likely you are to end up as one or most of those statistics. I don't want you to be one of those statistics. Economic research confirms everything I am telling you. It's been proven. Some young people at Fraser today are still proving that message to be true."

Ms Crawford did not respond to Newshub's request for comment.

Year 12 student Cody Barron told Newshub Ms Crawford's comments were "disrespectful".

"When you go to a school, you don't expect to hear your principal be talking trash about suburbs 90 percent of the students come from - which seemed to be racial - and how she's so much better than us."

He said the principal's intentions were good, but she "took it too far".

"One girl started crying in the assembly. Some people took it serious, some people were just laughing, like, 'What the hell?' They were not expecting this."  

The staff member Newshub spoke to said students mentioned they're planning a "mass wag" next week, probably for one period.

The staffer said it was "disgusting" to tell teenagers at the decile 4 school "they will get raped or be victims of domestic violence or commit suicide if they wag".

"Most of it was okay but wow, that first part was not okay."

The staff member said students were "really confused" by what Ms Crawford told them.

"Domestic violence and rape and drug abuse doesn't discriminate."

A number of students have reportedly been sent to Ms Crawford's office on Friday morning for allegedly uploading and sharing the video.

Cody said he doubted she would apologise, because "she's not the type of person to do that".

"I heard the only regret she had was she spoke for too long."

Online comments

Several people claiming to be students or parents commented on the video on YouTube.

"Just because they miss class it means that they deserve to be raped and be in a violent life, it makes no sense," one wrote.

I'm seriously concerned as my daughter attends this school," said another. "Yes she's had days off school, and there's been a time I've forgotten to call.  But when you say such things like this? You have failed my daughter as an educator, you have failed the system, my daughter hasn't failed as a student and I haven't failed as a parent.

"This revolting tormenting speech has only proven that YOU madam principal are the FAILURE in this matter. Disgusting inappropriate accusations. I'm pulling my daughter out until you are replaced."

A few supported her approach, but were in the minority.

"She's trying to encourage kids to do their best," wrote Madison Ross. "When you're a teacher and you see students not fulfilling their potential and/or making poor decisions it's disheartening and you want the best for the students. In a low decile school I can imagine it would be very difficult dealing with some students. Sometimes the only way is tough love especially when it's a last resort."

Debbie Tohill, executive director of Rape Prevention Education, said students are right to be concerned.

"I think that is certainly giving cause for young people to feel scared," she told Newshub. "I'm not sure that's the right approach we should be taking when dealing with truancy issues."

She said the comments put the blame on students for being raped, when it should be the other way around.

Elsewhere in her speech, Ms Crawford warned students who didn't succeed at school what may lay in store for them.

"As an adult you don't get an option of doing a detention or a stand-down or writing apology letters. As an adult there are no teachers to encourage, to support, to nag, to fix things, to believe in you. There are no parents or caregivers to see the principal to fix your mistakes."

She said it was up to her to deliver the message.

"When I drive out of the school grounds during classtime for meetings in the city and I see groups of students sitting outside the dairy, the fish and chip shop, the bus stop, some of the things I'm thinking are that's another group of students without a future. That's another student who'll end up a statistic. That's another loser. That's another wannabe - with some lame, sad story. That's another student who's desperate for friendship. That's another person really lost."

"You're smiling now because you know it's true. You may even be one of those people. You think it's harsh, but if I don't tell you, who else is going to tell you?"