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Experts Put Spotlight On Youth Violence

Media release
20 June 2008


Experts Put Spotlight On Youth Violence

Drug use, violence and abuse of teachers and students are plaguing many New Zealand schools to a point where police officers have been stationed in South Auckland schools and parents are being forced to take matters into their own hands.

The issue of youth violence on the streets and in our schools will come under the spotlight next week at the New Zealand Security Conference, hosted by the New Zealand Security Association in conjunction with the New Zealand chapter of ASIS International.

International expert in school and youth violence, Kate Broadhurst will join Youth Court Judge Ida Malosi and Police Superintendent Steve Shortland to discuss the trends in New Zealand and around the world and ways in which the problems can be tackled.

Ms Broadhurst says that in the UK youth violence, problematic gang activities and an increase in weapon finds among pupils is having an extremely negative effect on teachers, especially the newly qualified.

“Student violence makes it very difficult for teachers to carry out their core function – teaching. They are placed at increased risk of injury and stress which may see teachers leaving the profession as a result and difficulty in recruiting new teachers.”

She does not necessarily believe racial or gang issues have an impact on the increasing levels of violence.

“We cannot assume there is a racial element to gangs. Our evidence from the UK suggests that schools are often viewed by young people as a safe have away from gang tensions.

“While in school, they often feel protected. It is once out of school that the violence or threat of violence becomes an issue. As such, we need to ensure we do not automatically exclude those involved in gangs because this will simply push them onto the streets and into greater vulnerability.”

Ms Broadhurst says there are a host of other reasons why pupils become violent within school.

“Ask a good head teacher of a primary or even infant school and they will be able to spot the future trouble makers. From here we can draw risk factors – lack of parental support or structure within the home, older sibling involvement in anti-social behaviour and crime, absence of effective role models in the home. From here, we can develop prevention strategies.

Among a range of interventions Ms Broadhurst suggests are zero tolerance policies, training for staff on how to manage pupil behaviour, and working with parents/parent classes. She also suggests prevention strategies such as identifying who is at risk and ensuring they are engaged in preventative programmes.

“Security technology has a role to play in terms of creating a safe school environment , ensuring schools adopt a problem solving approach to the issues that includes effective risk assessment and management processes.

An exhibition of the latest technology in commercial and residential security is being held in association with the conference at the SkyCity Convention Centre, Auckland on June 25 and 26.


The New Zealand Security Association focus on the issue of violence in schools and youth violence and the need for security measures comes at a time when more and more incidents are causing huge concern around the world.

The global picture:
Dunblane, Scotland 1996 – 16 Killed
Sanaa, Yemen – 1997 – 8 killed
Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA – 1998 – 5 killed
Columbine, Colorado, USA – 1999 – 15 Killed
Erfurt, Germany – 2001 – 16 Killed
Carmen de Patagones, Argentina – 2004 – 3 Killed
Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, USA – 2006 – 5 Killed
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA – April 2007 – 33 K illed
Tuusula, Finland – November 2007 – 8 Killed
DeKalb, Illinois, USA – February 2008 – 8 Killed
Jerusalem, Israel – March 2008 – 9 Killed

Here in New Zealand, the record is not much better:

The July 2006 murder of Lois Dear in her Tokoroa classroom while preparing for the start of a new term demonstrates violence is very much an issue in this country.

In 2007 a New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) survey found one in seven primary school teachers were hit by their pupils in the previous year. The study also found more than 50 per cent of teachers and more than 25 per cent of school support staff reported "aggressive verbal confrontations" with pupils.

In August 2007, a Kaitaia College teacher quit his job after he was dragged along by a car as he tried to speak to students playing truant.

In September 2007, a Glenfield primary school teacher was left traumatised after a teenager broke into her school through a hole in a fence in broad daylight and punched her in the face.

In December 2007, a Cambridge Middle School teacher suffered a bruised eye and a middle-aged colleague an injured wrist and smashed glasses after they were slapped and hit by a 13-year-old student.

In February of this year, New Zealand police announced a scheme whereby they plan to station 5 officers in South Auckland schools. In the same month parents in Marinara were forced to take things into their own hands at a school” plagued by drug use, violence and the abuse of teachers and students” (NZ Herald)

While the overseas experience is frightening, there is no room for complacency in New Zealand says New Zealand Security Association executive director Barrie Cooper.

“We believe these incidents and statistics should be of concern to all people in the education sector so we’re inviting them to join the experts at the 2008 New Zealand Security Conference as these issues are discussed,“ Mr Cooper says.

NOTE EDS: Media are welcome to attend the session on violence in school and youth crime other sessions. Please contact New Zealand Security Association executive director Barrie Cooper to arrange security clearance. Tel: 09 486-0441 or Mob: 021 922 634 or Glenda Hughes 0274 953 673.

AdditIonal speakers at the New Zealand Security Association Conference being held at the SkyCity Auckland convention centre June 25 – 26 include:

ROAD TO 2011

Martin Sneddon, CEO Rugby NZ 2011 Ltd – overview of staging a major sporting event

Simon Jelowitz, Rugby Operations Manager, NZRU – Stadium Security

Dr Warrren Tucker, NZSIS assisted by Mike O’Leary – Security threats.


Baroness Ruth Henig, Chairperson Security Industry Authority, UK – The security industry structure in the UK and its relationship with government and police

Superintendent Hamish McCardle – The Police Act

Scott Carter – Security industry legislation overview

Jason Brown, Thales, Australia – Findings of the Security Professionals Congress, Melbourne, 2008


Charlie Pierce CCP – The latest in CCTV and systems integration

Guy Underwood, RISQ Group, Australia – Employment screening security vetting

Kate Broadhurst, Perpetuity Trust, UK – Procuring of security services


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