Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Salisbury case highlights 'archaic' views on disabled

December 14, 2012

Salisbury case highlights 'archaic' views on disabled

The decision to keep Salisbury School open is at odds with the New Zealand Disability Strategy’s goal of an inclusive society, says Massey education specialist Dr Jude MacArthur.

A recent judicial review has over-ruled the proposal from Education Minister Hekia Parata to shut Nelson's Salisbury residential school for girls with intellectual disability. The proposal was to replace Salisbury with wrap-around services in the community, with some girls moving in the interim to Halswell Boys College in Christchurch next year.

This week Justice Robert Dobson over-ruled the decision, concluding that it disregarded "the prospect of greater risk of sexual or physical abuse" to the girls if they were sent to a co-ed special needs school.

Mai Chen, lawyer for the school’s board of trustees, in Radio NZ and Breakfast interviews stated there were concerns the young men with an intellectually disability could start predating on the girls if in the same facility.

However, the IHC challenged that, saying that by portraying the Halswell pupils as potential sexual predators Ms Chen was misleading the public and scaremongering. Dr MacArthur, a senior lecturer at Massey’s College of Education, backs the IHC’s stance and says Ms Chen’s comments reflected a poor understanding of Professor Freda Brigg’s research, which showed disabled boys were likely targets for abuse and needed good support to understand their rights and reduce their vulnerability.

“To portray young men with intellectual disabilities as sexually deviant and ‘predating’ on girls is inaccurate, damaging and archaic," Dr MacArthur says. "This just perpetuates negative stereotypes of disabled people and contributes further to their marginalisation in society.

“These harmful myths should be a thing of the past and Ms Chen’s comments are just another sign it really is time to end the segregation of people with disabilities.”

She says just as institutions have closed because they were found to restrict the lives of disabled people, Ms Parata's proposal to close residential schools and develop supports in the community was an important step towards building a more inclusive society.

“Inclusive education involves changing local schools and communities so all children and young people with disabilities learn well and have friends without having to leave their home.

“We shouldn’t be hiding people away, we need to address their needs in the community. If some boys with intellectual disabilities do engage in unacceptable behaviors, as Ms Chen suggests, then we need to ask why is this happening and what can our community do to help this young person."

The New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities both identify inclusive education in regular schools as vital in a society that enhances the lives of disabled people.

“Teenagers with disabilities, boys and girls, need good education, good role models, and support from their non-disabled peers and friends.” Role models and support are found in regular schools and communities, and developing supports and enhancing teacher knowledge is the way forward, she says.

“We have seen how inclusion can work in other countries and in many of our own schools, but for all schools to be inclusive there needs to be commitment and a universal valuing of disability and other forms of diversity."


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news