A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, December 16, 2007

New Zealand schools: free to hit you and me?

Think we've got it bad here? Try New Zealand, where, under the law, apparently school behavior guides cannot spell out consequences for misbehavior.

Here's the story of Dylan Keen and Slade Butler, who were attacked by fellow students and later dissatisfied with the consequences.

A bit of explanation: a "King hit" is Aussie slang for a hit without provocation.

A school is defending its handling of violent pupils after a teenager's jaw was smashed - the second time this year that one of its students has been bashed by another pupil.

Fifteen-year-old Dylan Keen's jaw was shattered when he was "king hit" by a fellow Waiuku College student. But it appears the attacker may not be expelled and could also escape criminal charges.

While the injured teen was well enough to sit exams last week, the past fortnight has seen him nursing a broken jaw, cracked in two places.

Dylan spent three days in hospital and had a titanium plate inserted in his head, said his father, Gavin Keen.

He said he expected the attacker to be expelled and if this did not happen he would consider placing his son at another school.

Dylan was walking home in a group of four when they were taunted by other boys.

After Dylan retaliated with a verbal response the attacker came up behind him and "king hit" him.

Early this year another Waiuku student was the victim of violence by a fellow student.

When Slade Butler discovered his attackers were back at school within days he led a 200-strong walkout from the school grounds.

Waiuku board chairman Geoff Mercer said he could not discuss specifics of the latest case, but confirmed a student had been suspended pending a board hearing. He doubted Waiuku College had any more of a violence and discipline problem than any other school, but "we acknowledge there is a lot we can do to improve the safety of kids".

Staff had taken measures this year to address punishment and its timeliness, he said, and the climate of the school had "substantially improved".

Dylan's attacker has been suspended from school, but he is not missing out on classes due to the examination timetable and its associated study weeks.

Mr Mercer said that, under education law, schools could no longer spell out consequences for actions. "We are not allowed to say if you do X, you're going to get Y. The courts say we have to keep an open mind."

The emphasis was on keeping students in school.

"We've got to work hard so both the offender and victim remain at school and that they both feel safe."

Sergeant Kevin Kneebone of Waiuku police said the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act was forcing police to tread carefully in how they dealt with the current alleged offender.

"Police are taking action in relation to that case, but we have to follow procedures under the act. It needs to be referred to Youth Aid ... and should be referred to a family group conference."

Police Youth Aid staff would consult CYF's Youth Justice co-ordinator, Mr Kneebone said.

The family group conference would determine whether further steps were warranted. While it was always preferable to keep youths away from the court system, this assault case was serious enough for police to take more action.

Could any Kiwis give us the background info? I will gladly include any further information in an update.

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At 12/16/07, 5:27 PM, Blogger Mark said...

"Dylan was walking home in a group of four when they were taunted by other boys.

After Dylan retaliated with a verbal response the attacker came up behind him and "king hit" him.

I'm not sure what the school can do. If Dylan was walking home, this took place outside the school.

In California back in the mid-1970s, I was routinely beaten up on the way home from school (kid in my grade, his older brother, several of their friends). The school said they couldn't do anything about it because it was not on the school grounds (and the police said they couldn't do anything about it because I was a minor ... I never understood that).

It may be the same in New Zealand.

-Mark Roulo

At 12/17/07, 6:54 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

That's the way it was when I was growing up, too. There was many a fight behind the gas station down the street from the junior high, and the school officials were probably just glad the students had the restraint to hold off until they left school.

But now--- we regularly impose discipline for fights on the way home from school. The saying is from doorstop to doorstop, the school is in loco parentis. If the fight started at school verbally and then is "consummated" elsewhere, it still can cause discipline at school.

I once captured a little weasel who "king hit" a smaller student just after he had crossed off school property. The miscreant hit and ran. The smaller student was bleeding. I put him back in my car, took him back up the hill to school, got the nurse to help him, called the victim's dad, who said the hitter had been tormenting him for weeks.

The outcome? The dad called the police (at my urging-- the victim had broken teeth) and filed assault charges, and I wrote up the miscreant and turned it over to the principal. He was arrested-- and later suspended.

At 5/14/08, 1:46 AM, Anonymous Nick Reid said...

I am a student at Waiuku College and can honestly say that there are two sides to each of the stories. While I'm certainly not implying that assault is justified in any shape or form, I am saying that a situation like this is never as straight forward as appears to the public. In New Zealand there are very strict rules about what pricipals and senior management staff can do to discipline offenders before a hearing has taken place. What happened to Slade and Dylan was assault but was outside school hours and off grounds, however, both victims and attackers were in school uniform when the incidents took place. This makes it hard to discern who should take responsibility for disciplining the youths. While I dont agree with what happened at our school it needs to be said that there are always two sides to any story. There are very few, if any students at our school who would go out of their way to assault someone like that unprovoked. It is just not in the nature of the students here. The students who were Involved however were stood down and faced charges in youth court.

At 5/30/08, 6:37 PM, Anonymous UKU hard said...

i was at waiuku school while these things happened but how can you americans judge how our school handled the situation as you wernt there and you dont even know our policies. if i was you i would would just stay quiet as you dont even know your facts

At 6/4/08, 10:18 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Thanks for the information, Nick. I think my problem is with this bit: "Mr Mercer said that, under education law, schools could no longer spell out consequences for actions. 'We are not allowed to say if you do X, you're going to get Y. The courts say we have to keep an open mind.'"

When you can't spell out consequences, you get arbitrary discipline. And that is a very bad idea for everyone involved-- for both the victim and the perpetrator.

And uku: nice grammar and punctuation.

At 11/17/08, 2:38 PM, Anonymous Mark Bertie said...

Hi from New Zealand again, I am English and living in New Zealand. My son Toby Bertie was attacked at school by a gang of students,Toby was left uncurious and sustained a broken jaw in 2 places. It was a premeditated unproved assault at Long Bay College Northshore Auckland. Fin Cadman and his gang filmed the whole attack for entertainment. Long Bay College have condoned this violent assault upon Toby, by trying to sweep it under the carpet and supporting Fin Cadman's return to school with only a 3 week suspension as punishment. Here is a link showing TVNZ doco on the violent assault

Long Bay College refused to call the police as the principal did not like cops at the school. I had to call the police from hospital. The police could not understand why the school were anti the police on school property?

The Minister of Education Mr. Chris Carter, the Ministry of Education, and Student Support Mrs.Vivian Knowles has shown a total lack of concern and respect for my son Toby. It would seem that the people in authority are abusing their position by stone walling this issue. I now conclude that silence and the lack of their actions from Long Bay College that this violent attack/assault is condoned by all involved.

Youth Justice court, well take away the word Justice and you will have an idea of the lack of concern they show for the victim in all of this.

At 1/28/09, 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been VERY shocked to see the lies and fictional comments Mr Mark Bertie has written here! This was dealt with in a very concered and respectful manner to his Son Toby ,through the school, COURTS (where Mr Bertie was told he cannot claim the GREEDY thousands compensation he was asking for ) Ministry of Education has been very fair and has told Mr Bertie that this was a PEER PREsSURE INCIDENT and the pupil invloved in the fight with Toby, has been punished severly as MR MARK BERTIE WELL KNOWS!!! Long Bay College , Vivian Knowles, guidence councillors and Toby Bertie all agree that the Victim here is not infact only Toby but also the poor boy who acted under as Professionals discribed it "Peer Pressure incident" the filming of the incident was incomplete and the video was taken by a Year 11 student (police have confirmed) who was a so called friend of Toby and not infact a member of Mr Mark Berties fictional gang ???? that Mr Mark Bertie has invented with many other fictional statements. Toby needs to move on according to Toby`s councillors, the Judge, Long Bay College and TOBY but ! "my dad is not letting me!! " AND " I feel bad for the other boy, my dads going over the top" Your poor son Mr Bertie !! Professional people are now worried that your Son may harm himself due to your pressure on him rather then the incident that happened a year ago. Move on Mr Bertie you have hurt enough people here through your lies and greed, let your children move on. The other child involved WILL NOT be asked to leave Long Bay, but with your irrational behavior you could get a restraining order against you, you are already on file for many serious intimdation to the poor mother of the child involved, the next step as you have had explained to you will be a restraning order. Look after your Child Mr Bertie he is of most importance here, he feels no threat as he has explained, his only threat is you.

At 1/28/09, 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to have Nick Reids comments confirmed there is "always two sides to a story"

Knowing little about this case (But interested to know more )I am sure the M of D ,school board,Youth court have acted fairly with the case. And the offender has been punished.

These cases are never taken lightly and involve many professional adults making decisions, surely not all wrong decisions in this case.

School boards are usually parents of pupils attending the school, surely they came to the conclusion the child was not of threat to the victim or to any other child in the school.


At 1/28/09, 9:40 PM, Anonymous ang said...

Living in the area and being fully aware of the above incident at LONG BAY COLLEGE

I am ashamed to say at first I did feel for the Bertie family, but since knowing a little more of the way Mr Mark Bertie has acted within the community and witnessing the abuse he gave to the mother and the child involved in a playground of all places !! I have now realised there is much more to the incident than Mr Mark Bertie has tried to fool us with. /

I shall be forwarding this blog onto more people and hopefully we can hear more truth of the story.


At 1/29/09, 12:14 AM, Anonymous Ian said...

Hi there

yes I am also aware of the incident. Toby must have felt a great deal of humiliation through his father`s constant demands on the school and MOD. I beleive Toby expressesd to the school he wanted to move on.

Marc Sainsbury T.V close up showed the case on Expulsion.

This should never have been broadcasted or at least broadcasted with truthful facts on the matter. My wife and I could see there were many issues not being shown and this did nothing to convince anyone that the School or MOD should have acted in any other way.

Ian /Torbay

At 2/23/09, 6:52 PM, Anonymous Debs said...

I would have liked to have heard more of the story, it has been a great eye opener for me as I live in the area and my child was attending LBC at the time, her reaction to the incident was that "it was not a gang the child who hit was in and that he had heaps amount of punishement and he is a really nice boy!" and from what I have witnessed recently from a secure and loving family.

But all comments have slowed down which is disapointing. It would be great to have a comment from Ms Cornlius.

I have also heard that the Ministry of Education on this case had four top people agreeing the way forward and I cannot see any flaws to the situaton decided?

In earlier comments Mod was mentioned is this the same as Min of Ed ?

Debi - Long Bay

At 12/18/09, 12:16 PM, Blogger bathmate said...

Thanks for your lovely posting. I really enjoyed reading it.

At 5/7/14, 3:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow i remember this food fight Toby started it haha


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