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Minister Should Stand-Down School’s Principal


8th October 2016

“Abuse of children in our schools by teachers should not be tolerated in any way, shape or form” Guthrie

Children have been repeatedly locked in a darkened cell-like room at a primary school as punishment for bad behaviour. Education officials launched an investigation at Miramar Central School in Wellington after a behaviour therapist found an 11-year-old disabled boy alone and distraught in the cupboard-sized room, with no way to get out. The boy, who is autistic with the mental age of a toddler, was one of at least 10 children - mainstream and special needs - put in the "time out" room within the past year.

Sensible Sentencing Trust’s National Spokesperson for Child Abuse Scott Guthrie, is both astounded and outraged to think in this day and age that children are being abused in this way by teachers who hold positions of trust. This type of behaviour is totally inappropriate! “If children have indeed been abused in this way, then those involved should be held to account”.

One of the children’s mothers said, "I'm horrified a school would do that," she said. "My son is petrified of the dark and so this would have been a truly frightening experience for him."

A Ministry of Education investigation found he had been in the room at least 13 times over nine days as well as at least 10 other children who had been in the room since 2015, for up to 25 minutes at a time. An incident log said reasons children were put in the room included hitting, making a mess, disobedience, and a lack of focus. It was also used as a threat when children were misbehaving. The report also stated that while the supposed time out room was not illegal it was out dated.

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Out dated - more like prehistoric! Locking children in a dark small room for punishment is totally unacceptable and I would expect to see some answers from Hekia Parata. I agree with the parents that the police should be involved and people should be held accountable for abusing children in their care” Guthrie

The Ministry of Education's head of special education David Wales said it strongly recommended the school discontinue the use of the room but stopped short of banning the practise. Education Minister Hekia Parata said the case was extremely concerning and the ministry was working with the school to ensure it didn't happen again.

As yet the new guidelines on seclusion and restraint have not been released. The SST says the consequences for the actions of some of the staff from Miramar School should be made public. Justice must be seen to be done for these children. END

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