Schoolyard assaults go through the roof
QUEENSLAND children attacked fellow students or teachers on state school grounds more than 31,000 times last year, with shocking new data revealing students as young as Year 1 are being suspended over assaults.
Education Department data obtained by The Courier-Mail shows students were suspended 31,667 times last year for "physical misconduct".
It's an increase of more than 3000 assaults from the previous year and a shocking 50 per cent up on 2014, when there were 21,405 attacks across the state. The worst grade was Year 7, with 5230 incidents.
The figures don't include incidents in private schools, which account for about 33 per cent of students.
It follows a spate of sickening attacks in Queensland schools, including an 11-year-old Townsville girl charged for allegedly stabbing her teacher in the back and a 12-year-old Nanango girl beaten so badly she had to be flown to Brisbane for treatment.
Parents have told of children being subjected to horrific bullying that escalated to violence and the teachers' union says staff have been hospitalised in recent years after being violently attacked.
But the Education Department says some of the reasons for the rise in incidents can be attributed to increasing student numbers, improved record keeping and stronger enforcement of "discipline standards".
Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said one teacher was so badly beaten with a piece of furniture they could not work for close to two years.
Mr Bates said teachers faced dangers on a daily basis including hitting, biting, and kicking from school students.
"It can be as simple as proximity threats, which is someone standing in your space to intimidate you right through to physical violence including hitting, biting, kicking … right through to the worst circumstances which I've ever encountered is students using furniture as a weapon to assault a teacher," he said. "Everyone deserves to be safe at work - nobody goes to work expecting they won't come home at the end of the day."
The south-east region reported the most attacks in 2018, with 7388 cases, followed by the north coast region with 6937.
The incidents involve attacks on other students or adults, including teachers, and can involve weapons.
In total, 133,065 incidents of physical misconduct were reported in Queensland between 2014 and 2018, the data shows.
This includes 6329 attacks between 2014 and 2018 by students in Year 1 - who are between six and seven years of age - against fellow students and teachers.
Just last month, a girl from Nanango was flown to Brisbane Children's Hospital after she was so violently bashed at school her earrings were ripped from her ears and she suffered a back injury.
The girl's injury summary was six pages long.
"It was really bad - I can't express what it was like," her mother said.
Other parents have told The Courier-Mail that their children had received death threats, been barricaded in rooms by entire classes and taunted by gangs of children.
Some parents said they feared for their children's lives and were forced to move them to different schools as bullying reaches a crisis level.
Children can be suspended for one to 20 days.
An Education Department spokesman said that the vast majority of students behaved appropriately every day.
"The behaviour of a very small percentage of the student population does not reflect the typical high standard of self-discipline and respect exhibited by our population of nearly 560,000 state school students," he said.
"There may be a number of factors contributing to changes in data from year to year, including growth in overall student population, improved record keeping processes and stronger enforcement of school discipline standards," the spokesman said. Physical misconduct could include throwing a pencil, grabbing, pushing or tripping another student and staff were offered support to deal with the issue, he said.
WORST CASE SCENARIOS
A 12-year-old girl from Nanango was flown to Brisbane Children's Hospital after she was so violently bashed at school her earrings were ripped from her ears and she suffered a back injury. She was in hospital for a week.
An 11-year-old girl was charged for allegedly stabbing a teacher at Heatley Primary in Townsville. Police tasered the girl after they say they found her inside the school grounds armed with a knife after responding to reports of a student stabbing a female teacher.
A schoolyard fight in Gympie saw one child knocked unconscious and a teacher injured. The brawl, which was caught on camera and spread all over social media, saw police and an ambulance called to James Nash State High School. A parent said the fight began when a Year 10 student had an issue with a group of children who were playing football.