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.