Caring for kiddies is all very well, but what about the tiny tots who rough up their teachers?

It was a worthy contribution, on the issue of how best to look after our children.

But it didn’t do much to acknowledge the need to protect some adults from brats.

Alf refers, of course, to a joint oral submission to the Health Select Committee inquiry into preventing child abuse and improving child health from Every Child Counts and Plunket.

Every Child Counts is a coalition of organisations and individuals working to improve the status and wellbeing of NZ children, driven by Barnardos, Plunket, UNICEF, Save the Children, and Ririki.

The submission called for sustained, cross-party commitment to policies for children, along with universal services and a Children’s Action Plan for all children.

All jolly good stuff – up to a point.

“The Health Select Committee inquiry is an important opportunity to focus on preventing child abuse by improving the social and economic determinants of wellbeing – including poverty – and enabling communities and families to improve child safety,” says Deborah Morris-Travers, Manager of Every Child Counts.

“We have recommended that parliament and government provide leadership that changes attitudes towards children, and achieves cross-party agreement on a baseline of policies and investment in children that is sustained beyond the three-year parliamentary term.

“We also reiterated the call we have jointly made with 72 other agencies in the “What Will it Take?” briefing paper released by UNICEF NZ today, that a Children’s Action Plan emerging from the government’s White Paper should ensure the wellbeing of all New Zealand children. Public investment in children is low compared with other OECD countries and we highlighted to the Select Committee the high return on effective investment in children in the early years.”

The media release from these people acknowledged that members of Parliament showed interest in taking an investment approach to children and reducing the current spend of $8bn a year arising from poor outcomes for children through improved care of children.

They called for practical measures such as a child health database that would enable better identification of those children missing out on the services and care they are entitled to.

But Alf is just as concerned to look after teachers who find themselves at the victim end of dealings with bolshie brats.

He notes that the New Zealand’s Post Primary Teachers’ Association is calling for schools to report all assaults to police after 100 Manawatu students physically or verbally attacked teachers last year.

Figures released to the Manawatu Standard under the Official Information Act show there were 100 incidents of students assaulting teachers – both physically and verbally – in the region last year, with children as young as five being stood down or suspended for attacks.

More than half of the students who assaulted teachers were boys aged 13 to 15, and were either stood down or suspended as punishment.

Nationally there were 3096 assaults on teachers.

PPTA junior vice-president Angela Roberts said most Western societies are experiencing increases in violence and schools are a reflection of what’s going on in society.

“There is no acceptable level of assaults on teachers. So we’re saying if you’ve been assaulted you need to report it.”

To the cops.

And all going well, then to a sharp educative experience of our justice system.

Teach the brutal buggers they can’t get away with everything on the grounds of their age.

It looks like we are going about things the wrong way.

Education Ministry spokesman Leo Trompetter said it was up to schools to manage assaults.

The ministry had invested $60million in a Positive Behaviour for Learning programme for schools to manage those at-risk students, he said.

But this looks like wasted money.

And Ms Roberts is right to say teachers should report assaults to police.

“The moment you hook a kid into a youth justice system they almost inevitably get access to resources schools don’t have,” she said.

“They have access to drug and alcohol support, they get access to mental health services, and all that stuff that schools don’t have access to.

“It’s not about getting the kids into trouble, it’s about getting those kids the help they need.”

Including, in appropriate cases, a period behind bars for time to reflect on the price to be paid for flouting the law.

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