Teachers in NZ restrain troubled students over 1000 times in just six months

Teachers in New Zealand have restrained troubled students more than one thousand times in a six month period.

Parents, teachers and even the Government say more clarity is needed around the guidelines for restraining children. Source: 1 NEWS

The Education Ministry started collecting figures in August – at the same time new guidelines were released.

Auckland mother Darian Lesa's son Phoenix has been restrained – the first time he was six and struggling with noisy changes in his classroom.

"He just lost the plot and threw tables, threw chairs, threw telephones, was banging on doors and windows. He was let out to try and calm down."

The school called her and she rushed to collect him.

She agrees children need to be restrained and in tears, says it's hard on everyone.

"It hurts because I wasn't there to help him, to see a six year old go through all that anxiety and all that fear – he had to have someone hold him so he doesn’t hurt himself or someone else."

Most of the 1030 incidents recorded between August and February were at primary schools, followed by special schools.

Boys were restrained five and a half times more than girls.

Berhampore school principal Mark Potter says he’s had to restrain pupils and it's hard on everyone.

He says there's plenty of guidance about what not to do, but more is needed about what teachers can do.

"It's tricky when they are spitting, hitting…throwing objects, it's not simplistic to undertake," he told 1 NEWS.

The Education Minister says he's keen on reviewing the guidelines.

"I'm not convinced we've got the balance right. There's obviously quite a lot of different competing factors that need to be balanced, I have some sympathy for the concern of some teachers and principals who say the law is now too restrictive," Chris Hipkins says.

And parents and teachers say more specialist support – such as teacher aides – are needed.