Teacher's judgment found wanting in 'self piercing'

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 13:00 27/03/2013

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A teacher at Broadgreen Intermediate School pierced his own ear with a safety pin, just days after students were told off for doing the same thing.

Sue Brown, a teacher from Australia, was concerned by the reports that a teacher had pierced his own ear in front of 30 students last Thursday, and then filled the hole with a paper clip.

Brown, who has a nephew and niece at the Stoke school, said students had been disciplined for similar behaviour the previous week. She has since returned to Australia.

Broadgreen Intermediate School principal Derek Lucic said the teacher "wasn't demonstrating an ear-piercing, he was piercing an existing hole. That was witnessed by the majority of his class."

The incident occurred against the background of some students piercing their own ears at school with pins and thumbtacks, Lucic said. Three students had been caught and reprimanded for self-piercing.

He said that issue had been dealt with by the school "in the context that it is an unsafe practice".

Because of the fad, ear piercings were at the forefront of some students' thinking, Lucic said.

He said the teacher in question was asked by two students if he had any piercings himself when he was younger.

The teacher said yes and then proved it, re-piercing his existing ear hole and putting a paper clip in the place where a stud would go, Lucic said.

Lucic would not speculate why he did it. "My position is that the teacher's judgment was wanting," he said.

The principal had since met the two students the teacher talked with directly before re-piercing his ear. Lucic said he assured them as their principal that the practice was inappropriate.

"I ensured that they were OK with what happened, in terms of that they are not traumatised, etcetera, and that they know that I don't approve of that."

The students who had been reprimanded for self-piercing were not in that teacher's classroom, Lucic said. He would not say what further action was being taken, or reveal the teacher's name, because an internal process was taking place.

"Because this is still in process I am in a position of advocacy for the kids, and also the teacher, so I am not in a position to be able to [give his name].

"For me, it doesn't finish today, there are other things I need to do.

"I am addressing the concern in a fair and robust way.

"As you can tell, I am absolutely not happy, so the person will know that."

Lucic said students at Broadgreen, usually aged between 10 and 13, were allowed pierced ears at school, so long as they complied with the dress code and safety standards.

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"There is a uniform code, and if you are going to be pierced then we ask that students do that with parental permission, or consent, and that it's done by a qualified person, in accordance with health and safety regulations,"  Lucic said.

Professional body piercer Kelle Annett, of Gizmos Nelson, said she would only pierce an under-16-year-old's ears if they could prove they had parental permission. It was important parents discussed body modification with their kids if they were interested, she said, rather than telling them "no" outright, which might lead to unsafe self-piercing.

She said self-piercing always carried the risk of infection from diseases such as hepatitis, especially if youngsters were sharing needles.

"There is not much damage you can do to nerve endings and that, but the hygiene thing is disgusting," she said.

- The Nelson Mail

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