31 May 2013

Action on violent boy after principal speaks out

8:44 am on 31 May 2013

A Northland principal who complained about the lack of support in dealing with violent children says there's been a flurry of interest from the authorities since he spoke out.

Pat Newman from HoraHora Primary School in Whangarei told Radio New Zealand on Monday he'd been trying since March to get help for a six-year-old who hurts other children on a daily basis.

Mr Newman says he's since heard from every agency that claimed to be working with the boy and his family, including Child Youth and Family, and specialist teachers began work with the child this week.

Mr Newman says every agency had plenty of paperwork on the case but they all mistakenly believed this had somehow translated into useful action at his school.

He says Child Youth and Family has now asked for a meeting with him and other principals to discuss how to improve communications.

Pat Newman says while he's spoken about just one boy, the problem of aggressive, disruptive young children is widespread in Northland schools.

His view is backed by a Whangarei counsellor who works with disturbed children, who says violence and neglect have become the norm in many Northland families since the 1980s.

Miriam Centre director Patsy Henderson says over the last 30 years she has seen the number of angry, violent five-year-olds grow with every generation.

Mrs Henderson says many families have never recovered from the economic reforms of the 1980s when there were mass job losses, work schemes were abolished and benefits were cut.

She says the counselling centre is now dealing with the grandchildren of people who lost their livelihoods at that time.