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Dunne: Character Education Needed In Schools

Dunne: Schools mayhem shows character education needed

An explosion of assaults on teachers, sexual harassment and children showing up at school with weapons shows the need for both parent education programmes and character education in our schools, United Future leader Peter Dunne said today.

Since 2000, in primary schools alone, suspensions and stand-downs have jumped 31 percent, with alcohol consumption up 25 percent, physical assaults on staff up 40 percent, assaults on other students, 33 percent, sexual misconduct up 21 percent and sexual harassment up an astonishing 83 percent, Mr Dunne revealed, citing Education Ministry figures sought under questioning.

“Now these are not teenagers, they’re not even kids at intermediate. These are eight, nine and ten year olds,” he said. “New Zealand has to wake up to these problems now.

“We’re heading towards a blackboard jungle, with worse to come as these children become adults with no moral compass, no boundaries, no discipline and no future.

Overall figures for primary, intermediate and secondary schools show that since 2000 there has been a 30 percent increase in assaults on staff, a 23 percent rise in sexual misconduct, a 39 percent rise in vandalism and a 43 percent increase in possession of weapons. Last year 23,656 school students were removed from their schools temporarily or permanently.

“The answer is parents and schools instilling character and values in children. We need parenting education programmes that don’t just focus on ‘at-risk’ families.

“Character education must be mandatory in schools - a call the Government has failed to take up. In fact, they can’t even tell us how many schools run programmes.”

Mr Dunne said the 1993 Curriculum Framework requires the teaching of attitudes and values as well as knowledge and skills: “This and previous governments have simply ignored this requirement. These figures show us the cost of that.

“Character education is about universal values such as honesty, respect for others and the law, tolerance, fairness, caring and social responsibility, and building these things into a school’s culture.”

An 11 percent jump since 1999 in enrolments at integrated schools - mainly schools with religious affiliations - shows parents are seeking values-based education for their children, he said.

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