The head of a Northland school principal association says children in the region are in desperate need of help to escape the suffering of growing up in a methamphetamine-soaked home.
Last night TVNZ1's current affairs programme Sunday aired a confronting story about children growing up around methamphetamine.
New Zealand has some of the most potent methamphetamine in the world and the number of court cases for P now rivals that of cannabis.
Te Tai Tokerau Principals Association president Pat Newman this morning told TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme that while Northland is particularly affected by the problem, it's also New Zealand-wide.
"It's not just in one school, its not just in the Far North - it is right throughout New Zealand," Mr Newman, principal of Hora Hora Primary School in Whangarei, said.
"It doesn't just affect low socio-economic groups - it covers all groups ... every school in New Zealand is dealing with this problem or similar problems."
Mr Newman said schools are seeing increasing numbers of "five year olds that are essentially one year olds" due to poor development.
"It's definitely to do with being exposed to methamphetamine in the home," he said.
Mr Newman described growing up in a home around methamphetamine as "hell - absolute hell".
"They don't know whether they're being fed, they don't know if there's going to be anyone home when they go home, they don't know which gang members are going to be in there demanding money, they don't know what their mother had to do to pay," he said.
Schools are under-resourced to deal with the problem, Mr Newman said, with Oranga Tamariki unable to provide enough help.
"We're screaming out and have been for years and no one listens," he said.
"We need expert councillors, we need people working with the families ... we keep getting told 'oh, it's another three years'
"Well these kids don't have three years.
"Either help now or build bigger prisons."