Today has been an upsetting one for education and south Auckland.This morning two pre-teens at a private school got in a fight that left one of them in intensive care with stab wounds from a pair of scissors. The afternoon, two teenagers at a large south Auckland campus were also treated for stab wounds in an incident police say is unrelated to this morning's violence.
|Weapons amnesty, Glasgow.|
So when I came to New Zealand to find sharp knives delivered with science practical orders, scissors left out in classrooms, and kids allowed to bring their own little retractable blades for cutting paper, I didn't know where to put myself. It seemed a recipe for disaster and led to some amusing-in-retrospect showdowns between myself and bemused kids. Over time I've come to appreciate the higher trust we have in our children and the behaviour with which our young people repay that trust.
Today's incidents have therefore left me rather shaken, my cosy antipodean worldview turned, in more ways than one, upside down. We teachers strive to make our schools safe havens for our young people, in some cases the only safe haven they have. Schools in NZ lack the security fencing, weapons-amnesty bins and police officers that I've seen in some schools in London and elsewhere, because we trust that our schools are free from weapons and provide an environment where young people feel safe enough not to need one.
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Am I overreacting? Possibly, but I'd rather schools and communities took today as a chance to have some real talk and thought about how they can support their young men and women, than end up with our own version of the London fortress schools.