Over 1000 pupils in the northern region are in a state of mental distress. That's according to the Te Tai Tokerau Region's Principals Association, who say most of the children in need are primary aged children, and some are even suicidal.
According to a survey done by Pat Newman of the Tai Tokerau Principals Association, 1089 need clinical attention.
Newman says, “Everything from physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional deprivation. I heard a mother the other day refer to her children as wankers. What message is she giving her 5 year olds?”
110 principals responded from around the north. Many of those children categorised as high-needs are under 12 years of age. But it was the teenagers who were expressing suicidal tendencies.
“If we don't do something now we may as well put them in a bus and shift them to Ngāwhā prison now, because if we don't help those kids now they're going to harm themselves or harm others and end up in prison,” says Newman.
Earlier this week the Government released a $100 mil package to focus on early intervention in mental health.
The Ministry of Health also said part of the mental health funding is set aside for Northland schools to assist students.
Says Newman, “Instead of politicians and bureaucrats trying to bullshit us, and I use that word bullshit with their own stats and making things sound good, they actually have to accept that there is a problem here. It's going to take money. It's better to put the money in now than putting it into jail after other people have got hurt as well.”
Newman says principals from South, West and East Auckland are saying the same.
He says principals may not be doctors, but they still know when something is wrong with the children.