Principals blame parents for failing to set boundaries, respect school authority and prevent social media-fuelled bullying, as primary school suspensions are on the rise.

Suspensions of upper primary students are growing faster than for any other age group.

Latest Education Department figures show 1005 students aged 10 to 12 were suspended in a single term, a 16 per cent increase from 866 for the same period the year prior, reports The Advertiser.

SA Primary Principals Association president Pam Kent said too many parents viewed their children as friends.

She said by failing to discipline their children, parents were robbing them of the chance to learn from mistakes and build resilience, resulting in unacceptable behaviour at school.

Ms Kent said the situation was made worse when parents refused to accept schools’ disciplinary authority and defended their children.

“There seems to be a trend of parents being much more liberal and not setting boundaries,” Ms Kent told The Advertiser.

She said parents were letting children join social media years before they were ready, and schools were left to deal with the effects of online bullying.

Across all age groups, the number of students suspended rose 8.6 per cent to 3855 in Term 2 last year from 3550 in Term 2, 2014.

Incidents leading to suspension were up 10.5 per cent from 4651 to 5141. Some students were suspended multiple times.

More than 40 per cent of suspensions last year were the result of “actual or threatened” violence, a higher proportion than in 2014.

The Education Department only keeps suspension figures from Term 2 for its yearly comparison.

Opposition education spokesman John Gardner said the figures were “a signpost of the disturbing trend of the increasing rates of assaults in our schools”.

Mr Gardner said the higher rates of suspension for upper primary students last year boosted the argument for shifting Year 7s to high school, where they would be more engaged in their studies by specialist subject teachers.

Across age groups, incidents of students “acting illegally” rose from 139 to 213 but there were fewer cases of “persistent and wilful inattention”.

Education Department executive director of statewide services and child development Ann-Marie Hayes said suspension figures had been “relatively consistent over the past five years”.

“Schools reflect society and the issues they are being dealt with often originate from outside the school environment,” she said.

Child psychologist Darryl Cross said the bad behaviour at school reflected chaos at home.

“The playground is just the barometer of what’s happening in the community,” he said.

“We’ve had a slide in family values. What we’ve got are families in disarray, families in chaos and parents who have little idea how to be effective parents.

“There’s a growing number of parents who have a substance abuse problem or serious mental health issue or alcohol problem so these children are suffering from emotional, physical and verbal abuse as well as physical neglect.”

Dr Cross said the community should view these figures as a “massive wake up call”.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise if these are problems being played out at school then early intervention is key,” he said.

“To do something about this problem schools need to have a group of allied health professionals: psychologists, social workers, nutritionists or dietitians, family therapist, and parent counsellor to help parents with their own issues.

“This will cost money and a lot of it but it doesn’t even come close to the cost to the community in the future if these problems are not dealt with. It will be astronomical with high rates of adult offending, anti-social behaviour and mental health problems.”

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  • The school yard is most definitely becoming more scarey as time goes on. Things need to chanfe


  • I agree in part, parents can be too soft on their kids these days but others are just in denial that their kids could ever do anything like that


  • Concerning !
    Yes it might be a good plan for schools to have a group of allied health professionals: psychologists, social workers, nutritionists or dietitians, family therapist, and parent counsellor to help parents with their own issues.
    However this should only be used with the permission of the parents.
    I don’t think the school should take over the responsibility of the parents, unless there’s an abusive situation at home.
    I don’t think you can generalize and say it’s bad parenting.
    Children from whom the parents go through a divorce, children who experience a death or other trauma in the family, children who’re being bullied and children with a disorder may act out while it isn’t a case of bad parenting.


  • I get really annoyed when people blame parents because their kids are buggers. Parents have NO rights when it comes to their kids and the kids know it. My daughter came home from kindergarten one day and told me that if I ever smack her then she can call 000 and the police will take me away. I slapped her silly and then handed her the phone and asked if she wanted me to dial for her.

    A friend’s teenager was using disgusting language towards her mum so my friend smacked her. Next thign my friend knew was that she was in handcuffs and being charged with assault. Her daughter is now in prison because she had a sense of entitlement and believed that she was above the law as she was always able to get away with the lies she told about her mother and when the police knew she was lying, they refused to charge her with making a false report

    I took my daughter’s mobile phone from her as she was going through credit like crazy. She called the police and the police actually attended my home and told me to give the phone back or I would be charged with theft!

    Another time she was grounded and had to spend 3 days after school in her room. She was allowed out for meals, toilet breaks and showering only. She was not locked in and had all the mod cons (computer, tv etc) so she was not without anything. Her teacher called me one day and told me that making my daughter stay in her room was false imprisonment even though the door was not locked. I called the police and asked them about it and they said that not only was it false imprisonment but it was also deprivation of liberty.

    I then asked the police what do you do with an unruly teenager who will not listen to you, deliberately defies you and threatens you with the police every 5 seconds. The police said to come down to her level and ask her to stop calling me disgusting names because it hurts my feelings. I tried that and she laughed in my face, told me where to go and walked out the door. I called the police back and asked them what do I do now and they said to keep trying. On my 5th attempt, my daughter spat in my face so I called the police and said I would like her charged with common assault and the police told me to stop being so childish and no wonder my child was out of control. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry

    You cannot take away the rights of a parent and then expect the kids to be angels. Don’t blame the parents when they are not allowed to discipline their children for bad behaviour. Blame the do gooders who gave kids too many rights in the first place.

    • And we were annoyed when ours came home with that info their first week they started school. There is so many things under the child abuse banner.
      If you yell at your child because they have ignored you and you need their attention (you haven’t used “bad language”) it is verbal abuse. It is also emotional advice. If they don’t want to something or say something you ask them to do, they don’t have to. You can ask them not to go out, but you can’t stop them …and the list goes on. KIDS have rights. What rights do parents have??? Some kids are too smart for their own good. They figure it out that parents are adults, so are teachers and decide the same rules apply. The Education System has a lot to answer for. Yes some problems do start at home but parents are not always at fault. Maybe some teachers should think about their behaviour. I personally saw a teacher stick her tongue out at a young pupil. She did it in fun but set the child a bad example. If the child then does it at home and is “told off” for it what is the child suposed to think?? Teachers can cause problems by verbally comparing the achievements of siblings even though there may be a couple of years difference. Yes it happens…I’m stating this from 2 personal experiences. Not impressed !!!


  • Many of these professions are already involved with schools and students. Parent workshops also need to be run for parents – everyone needs the opportunity to learn and upskill and widen their knowledge base and make community links and connections. Teaching children skills, including respect involves everyone.


  • I feel sorry for teachers having to deal with the result of poor parenting. These problems need to be addressed and it should be the parents who pay for the services needed to fix the problems they’ve created.


  • i know that i have a tendancy to stick up for my kids all the time but thats just a mothers insitinct isnt it. i totally agree that children have little to no respect for their elders anymore and social media and the internet has a massive influence on kids learning to bully/troll at a young age and then using this behaviour in real life. my daughter has two bullys that used to be her friends and they tease her about anything they can, i am glad i have not let her get facebook yet she is only 12 but half the kids in her class already have it.

    • Nope, Facebook is just asking for trouble with young children (with most children in my opinion) unless you are constantly looking over your kid’s shoulder. I think you’re doing the right thing in restricting her from using it even if she doesn’t like it.


  • Worrying statistics! Respect for others is definitely something that starts at home so it makes sense that parents would be the root cause.


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