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, but PPTA junior vice-president Angela Roberts said the figures were "no surprise".
"Most Western societies are experiencing increases in violence and, of course, schools are a reflection of what's going on in society," she said.
"There is no acceptable level of assaults on teachers. So we're saying if you've been assaulted you need to report it."
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 Ms Roberts said the programme alone was not enough and teachers needed to 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."
Ross Intermediate School principal Wayne Codyre said staff had had to restrain students from assaulting teachers but they had never had to report an assault to police.
"For us to take it to a standdown, it has to be directed or targeted at an actual individual," he said.
"We sometimes have to physically restrain students, but that's very rare. If the issue was serious enough we would report that as a school to police."
Longburn Adventist College deputy principal Brendan van Oostveen said every assault was treated differently.
"We've just recently had an incident where a student basically lost the plot [verbally] but it had nothing to do with the teacher in the end," he said.
"He was suspended for continual disobedience. It's very tricky when you have students who come to the school who have been taught to behave like this. It's about finding out why it is happening."
He said the health and safety of teachers and students was the first priority.
Queen Elizabeth College principal Michael Houghton said it had restorative practices in place for at-risk students.
"We have low tolerance on violence in general so we try and nip it in the bud as quickly as possible," he said.
"If there's a teacher who is feeling unsafe then we will get involved."
Palmerston North Area Acting Inspector Brett Calkin agreed that schools should report assaults to police, depending on the age of the student and the seriousness of the attack. Between 2007 and 2010 there were 478 assaults on teachers in the region.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What would you like the weather to do in March?