Feb 13, 2019, Brisbane Times: Children at Canberra school afraid to go to class amid violence https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/act/children-at-canberra-school-afraid-to-go-to-class-amid-violence-20190205-p50vs7.html Parents say they are afraid to send their children to a Canberra school amid escalating violence between students, but their concerns have been ignored by the government for more than a year. In November, more than 30 parents signed a letter addressed to ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry calling for a government intervention at Theodore Primary. It detailed harrowing incidents at the school including a child who had been allegedly choked into unconsciousness on the playground and another student who had been cornered in a toilet and swung around by a broken arm. The incidents were alarmingly frequent and widespread, multiple families told The Canberra Times, but the school and the education directorate appeared to turn a blind eye to their severity despite complaints stretching back to 2017. … At least one child had been hospitalised with a concussion, another had mild scarring after being hit across the face with a heavy instrument and others had sought psychological support outside of school for anxiety, depression and copycat behavioural problems. Leann Manunui was one of at least six parents to pull her kids out of Theodore in recent months due to safety concerns. … “There’s kids being hit over the head with stools, rocks and tree branches, hit in the face with rakes; little girls followed into the toilets by older boys and told to 'Suck their d---', kids coming home with bruises and they're just told to stay away from [certain] kids or be more resilient.”…. Warwick's son was hospitalised last year after he was thrown against a brick wall and punched in the head by another student, and she has since moved her children across the border to a school in NSW. … "I don’t expect one on one supervision in the playground and I completely understand you [shouldn't always just] suspend a child at home but ... those kids need more support, I feel for them, the teachers need more support." Ms Manunui said the school was a great community, which proudly catered to students with complex needs, but it did not appear to have enough staff to watch over students during recess and lunch. Despite some improvements to playground supervision last year, she said children were still being hurt. … . This month, the directorate began ramping up its own specialist support for the school. Though its behavioural experts have already been helping Theodore Primary, like all schools, with some individual students, The Canberra Times understands a direct intervention has not taken place. … Last year, some families had pulled their kids out of school for up to weeks at a time due to violence…. A few weeks later, Theodore Primary sent home an email acknowledging there had been "incidents over time where some students have behaved inappropriately towards fellow students". Senior students had been reminded that “hitting, kicking, punching and swearing at other students is not acceptable”, the email read. … Theodore Primary is not the only school experiencing difficulties with violence. In its latest annual report, the directorate reported 1660 student incidents in public schools, though that number does not capture all incidents reported to the directorate. … The ACT government is also rolling out sweeping reforms to reduce occupational violence in schools and increase reporting, amid action from WorkSafe ACT and pressure from the union for action on teacher assaults.
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