Year four students at a Sydney school were told they would be taken away from their parents during a class discussion on the Stolen Generation.
A nun told the Year 4 class at St Justin’s Catholic Primary School in Oran Park at 9:30am that their parents weren’t taking care of them and they would be taken away on orders of the prime minister, reports Sydney Morning Herald.
It wasn’t until 2.50pm that children were told they had been tricked as part of a lesson on the Stolen Generation.
Students were then asked to write down how they felt about the hoax.
The exercise left many children deeply upset, with one parent describing the hoax as “emotional abuse”.
“He came home and he said, ‘Mum, I got really scared at school today’. This should never happen to another child,” one angered parent said.
Another parent at the school, who did not want to be named, said she supported the aim of the activity but thought it could have been done better.
“I don’t have a problem with the idea of it because empathy’s a great thing to have,” she said.
“But I have some questions around if they made it clear that it was just a re-enactment.
“My son didn’t seem that upset when he got home but he got a bit distressed when I asked him about it.
“A lot of people were saying, ‘Can they do that, is that allowed?”‘
The schools response.
“This was intended to give students experience of a scenario that was part of our nation’s history,” diocese spokesperson Tim Gilmour said.
“It was done without incident last year and quite a lot of parents said the activity was a good one.
“If it’s deemed it’s no longer appropriate, we’ll look at whether it needs to be changed significantly or just amended to include more context.”
“Inducing similar or simulated trauma on children is completely unacceptable”
Many people are outraged with comments flooding in on the SMH Facebook page including,
“As an Aboriginal man, and a lecturer in Aboriginal Studies I find this outrageous. Inducing similar or simulated trauma on children is completely unacceptable for a whole range of moral and ethical reasons. Inducing guilt on anyone for what has happened does nothing to advance people’s understanding of the impact of these policies on Aboriginal people’s.”
“Upset my child like that I would be raging. They have no idea what some children are going through. What if a patent is dying or just died. What if the parents split up the night before GRR!!! I know we need to explain about the stolen generation and we should. But to install fear like that is just not on.”
“They weren’t told it was a lesson- they were made to believe it was real. All day. What a disingenuous teacher, how could one not understand the mental torment that this would cause a 10 year old. No matter the lesson to be learnt.”
“No this is wrong – anyone with an ounce of knowledge about child brain development would know this is harmful – children DO believe what they are told – to just say ‘oh it’s not true’ after the fact is too late – this could have harmful ramifications and I will be making a report to Helpline.”
“Completely Outrageous and Unacceptable. As an Aboriginal women and a Post Graduate Student in Indigenous Health and a suffer of Intergenerational Trauma inflicted by this Assimilation Policy. This not how to “Teach a lesson ” about the stolen generation. ”
What do you think about this activity? Did the teacher go too far?
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