'Mindfulness' technique outrages parents

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 29/08/2014

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Some Christian parents opposed to a calming technique being taught at a Northern Southland school fear the devil will get inside the children's heads if the practice is introduced.

Riversdale School wants the "mindfulness" technique taught to children at the school. Mindfulness focuses on getting a person's emotions and thoughts in a natural, and calm state and in the present moment.

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However, The Southland Times understands some Christian parents outraged at the proposal say mindfulness has Buddhism origins and its practice will allow the devil to get inside the children's heads.

A story yesterday on the issue resulted in more than 270 people commenting online.

Most were in support of the school implementing the technique.

Riversdale School board of trustees chairman Dylan Ditchfield said it was good to get support from the public but he was unwilling to say much more until a meeting between the school and its community on Monday night.

"We are very conscious of our community and we don't want to create any division, therefore we need to wait until the end of the meeting. We are only a small community and, if we create huge division, it's not good for anyone," Ditchfield said.

The school respected the views of those parents who were against the mindfulness technique, and was trying to get a positive outcome for everyone, he said.

"We are doing this for what we believe are the right reasons, and that's for the kids of the school and better learning. That's what the board has been mandated to do but we also want harmony in our community."

The school wanted to introduce mindfulness for several reasons, with one of them to curb bullying. But Ditchfield said bullying was no worse at Riversdale School than any other school.

Two parents who are opposed to the technique being introduced either declined to comment or did not return calls yesterday.

Another parent, Chrissy McBride, said she supported the introduction of the technique. "I think mental health is an important issue . . . it's worth a try."

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It was a sensitive issue and those opposed to it were not all opposed on religious grounds, she said. "Some parents just believe they shouldn't be interrupting children's learning for 30 minutes a day."

- The Southland Times

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