Serious incidents in Hunter schools

A high school student found with child porn on a government laptop through to a primary student who scaled a roof and dislodged a drainpipe when told to wear his hat are among some of the most serious incidents reported in Hunter schools.

NSW Education Department state school serious incident reports for the second half of 2011 have revealed the disturbing nature of violence, threats, weapons and drug use in Hunter Central Coast schools.

It includes students buying or fashioning weapons, parents threatening teachers, students getting into fights in and out of school, sexual assaults, illicit and prescription drug use and increasing use of technology to encourage and record such incidents.

Out of 67 incidences of violence boys were the aggressors in 37 cases, girls in 15 and in the remainder it was parents or strangers acting against students or teachers.

Public school advocates point out the number of incidents in the Hunter Central Coast education precinct, 67, were few given there are more than 107,000 students in the region.

The NSW Education Department responded to all the incidents with actions including short and long suspensions, contacting the police, parent meetings and intervention plans.

The reports showed public schools continue to struggle with troubled students who throw anger fits where they harm or threaten teachers and themselves and damage school property.

Adolescent expert and Enlighten Education founder Dannielle Miller said any reports of violence among boys or girls should be a wake-up call to society.

‘‘[Young people] never see friendship or relationship drama resolved peacefully [in the media] because that doesn’t make good drama,’’ she said. ‘‘We need to give young people skills to resolve conflict.’’

Secondary Principals Association Hunter chairman Peter Sheargold said it was only a very small percentage who engaged in such activities.

Mr Sheargold said high schools ran many programs to counter such behaviour.

They had also worked hard to keep school relevant to older students, which had reduced incidents of students lashing out.

‘‘When you’ve got 1100 kids in a small space every day some of those kids are going to bring these kinds of things in,’’ he said.

‘‘We work really hard to make sure playgrounds and classrooms are peaceful places.’’

The incident lists also revealed a growing proportion of girls are displaying violence and disobedience in and outside playground.

Girls were responsible for 22.4per cent of serious incidents in semester two of 2011 up from to 19.5per cent of incidents in the same period in 2010.

Ms Miller said her work with schools indicated they were seeing an increase in young girls wanting to ‘‘bash each other’’ rather than have verbal or emotional disputes.

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