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"The shame of James Hargest High"

"The shame of James Hargest High"

A South Island co-ed high school now rates sexual assault as being of lesser consequence than cannabis consumption outside of school grounds and hours.

Invercargil's James Hargest High has gained notoriety for a decision by its board of trustees to 'exclude' a 14 year old pupil who admitted to rolling and smoking a joint with friends on a city street (not even in school uniform), yet only suspended for a week four male students who held down a female student and sexually assaulted her.

In an age where we are constantly being told about “mixed messages sent to youth“ you just have to shake your head and wonder at the ones being sent here.

The school's message in bullying of the (honest) young pupil expelled for smoking cannabis is pretty consistent with what our police force and justice system sends to the general public with their criminalisation and persecution policies for cannabis users (one sixth of surveyed population).

Unfortunately there are hundreds of young New Zealanders expelled from their schools for Cannabis use each year and the numbers keep growing as the failure of prohibition policies means that just about any secondary school aged teenager (and younger) can now gain access to it.

In 2000, the Southland Youth at Risk committee commissioned a report by Dr Annette Beautrais, a suicide researcher at Christchurch Medical School, after a cluster of suicides among James Hargest students during the late 1990s [southland times, 9 July 03].

Six died within a two and a half-year period which Dr Beautrais found was "atypically high" for a single school.

Expulsions and dropping out of the education system are major factors in steering young people into low skilled futures and possible lives of crime - a 1998 select committee inquiry also implicitly linked cannabis 'labelling' and exclusion to NZ's extremely high youth suicide rate.

Meanwhile sexual assaults and violent crime continue to grow in our communities and make our streets less and less safe especially so for women.

And in the NZ parliament, a Select Committee inquiry into appropriate Health Strategies for Cannabis is stalled (and subverted?) before the Health Select Committee, because MPs don't want to admit the hypocritical, counter-productive legal status badly needs fixing.

Shame on you James Hargest High - actually double shame on you.

The Mild Greens commend the lad’s mother for totally supporting her son, standing up for his rights, and taking the case to the Ombudsman.

Mild Green Initiatives, for your liberty, pleasure, health and safety.

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