School Bullying

Bullying is a widespread issue in New Zealand schools. In 2007, one in five New Zealand high school students reported being cyber-bullied. In regard to physical bullying, an international study in 2009 found New Zealand had the second highest incidence of bullying out of the 40 countries surveyed.

In 2009, the Ombudsman launched an investigation into school bullying and violence after serious incidents at Hutt Valley High School in Lower Hutt, which included students being dragged to the ground, "removing their pants and violating them with screwdrivers, pens, scissors, branches, drills and pencils," a student "being beaten unconscious and a student being burnt with a lighter". The Ombudsman's report recommended schools' guidelines be amended to make anti-bullying programmes compulsory in schools. Post Primary Teachers' Association president Robin Duff said the report illustrated a systemic failure by the Ministry of Education to help schools deal with bullying.

The Government responded by putting $60 million into a Positive Behaviour for Learning plan but the results were less than satisfactory. In March 2013, Secondary Principals Association president Patrick Walsh asked the Ministry to "urgently draft a comprehensive bullying policy for schools, after being surprised to find it did not have one." Mr Walsh believes that since schools are supposed to be self-managing, each school has "work it out" for themselves which "would mean that all 2500 schools all have to reinvent the wheel".