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News (Media Awareness Project) - New Zealand: Schools Suspend More Than 100 Over Drugs
Title:New Zealand: Schools Suspend More Than 100 Over Drugs
Published On:2012-01-02
Source:Waikato Times (New Zealand)
Fetched On:2012-01-02 06:02:53
SCHOOLS SUSPEND MORE THAN 100 OVER DRUGS

A teachers' representative supports random testing to battle drugs.
Nicola Brennan-Tupara reports.

Waikato schools suspended over 100 students for taking or dealing
drugs at school last year.

And with the new school year fast approaching, education leaders are
proposing measures "" such as random drug testing and police
involvement "" to tackle the issue head-on.

Hamilton's Fairfield College hit the headlines in November after a
student took a class C drug to school and gave it to up to 11 of her
friends, leading to six of them being hospitalised .

But figures released to the Waikato Times under the Official
Information Act show this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes
to drugs in schools.

Police figures show there were 33 apprehensions for drug-related
offending at Waikato educational facilities in the 2011 financial year
to June 31, though they wouldn't specify what schools.

Ministry of Education statistics show there were 186 stand-downs for
drug offences and 107 suspension from November 22, 2010, to November
22, 2011.

Post Primary Teachers' Association junior vice president Doug Clark
said drugs weren't just a problem in Waikato Schools.

"It's a nationwide problem and a reflection of society," he
said.

"The more [drugs] that are used in society, the more we are going to
see them in schools."

Mr Clark supported random drug testing of students.

"When their behaviour is disrupting the education of a class, you've
got to balance the individual rights and needs of one against the
rights of a class full of 30.

"Drugs affect kids differently. Some are so laid back they're
horizontal. You don't have a problem with these kids because they're
barely awake "" but some get quite aggressive and nasty."

Some New Zealand schools already randomly drug test students who've
been busted previously in order to keep the children in school.

These pupils have to sign "alternative-action contracts" that require
them to undergo random urine tests to detect drugs.They must also
write essays on cannabis use and abuse, perform community work and
undergo behaviour and counselling reviews.

Education ministry acting senior manager Chris Harwood said student
attendance, along with effective teaching, had the greatest influence
on engagement and achievement. Returning excluded students to school
was a priority.

Mr Clark said the Fairfield incident could have happened at any Kiwi
school.

And if drugs were getting supplied by the parent, then "we're on a
hiding to nothing". The mother of the Fairfield student has been
charged with possession of a class C drug.

Mr Clark agreed with standing down a student who'd been disruptive
because of drugs and thought the police should be involved.

"Sometimes they have to be in the criminal justice system, not to be
punished, but to get the help that [the student] needs."

TAKING ACTION

Waikato schools' drugs punishments

(Nov 2010-Nov 2011)

Stand-downs 186 Suspensions 107

Police drug apprehensions for possession, dealing or other drugs
offences at Waikato educational facilities by area in 2010/11.

Cambridge 2

Coromandel 1

Hamilton Central 5

Hamilton East 1

Hamilton North 6

Hamilton West 2

Matamata 7

Otorohanga 2

Te Awamutu 4

Te Kuiti 1

Waihi 2

Total 33
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