General News Politics — 11 May 2012

Teachers and principals have stepped up calls for help to deal with rising child mental health and behavioural issues as student violence continues to cause problems across the state.

It comes as bus companies in southeast Queensland consider banning students because of wild behaviour accusations.

At Caboolture, a school community is still in shock after a 14-year-old girl was stabbed multiple times, allegedly by a 16-year-old fellow pupil this week – the third Queensland schoolyard stabbing in a little over two years.

Figures show about 20,000 suspensions were handed out last year for physical misconduct in state schools alone, with about 62,000 suspensions issued overall.

That’s about 300 suspensions for every school day.

Exclusions have gone up with more than 1000 state school students expelled or excluded last year.

Last year The Courier-Mail revealed some principals complained their days were consumed with dealing with child behavioural and mental health issues and had called for every school to have access to a professional who co-ordinated issues involving child social and emotional wellbeing.

Yesterday, Queensland Association of State School Principals president Hilary Backus said schools were a reflection of society and they had seen an increase in the mental and emotional needs of students, along with those diagnosed with verified disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder.

“We have seen a rise in students displaying anxiety and depression from quite an early age,” she said.

Schools were now dealing with these issues “on a daily basis” and she renewed her call for stand-alone professionals.

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said its policy was for every school to have access to a guidance officer.

But he said the number of guidance officers simply hadn’t “kept pace with the needs of schools as these sorts of issues have expanded” and were “spread thin” across the system.

Queensland Secondary Principals Association president Norm Fuller said they had also called for extra support, while behaviour issues in schools were a reflection of what was happening in society.

But last night Education Minister John Paul-Langbroek crushed the idea of providing more guidance officers, saying the Labor government legacy meant there was not enough money in the kitty and chaplains would do instead.


As first appeared in Courier Mail, 11 May 2012


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