No guns at school

04/08/2008

Hampden School in North Otago is reviewing its decision to allow children to bring guns to school. That’s homemade guns which were used while the children played at pig hunting while supervised by teachers.

Board chairman Ian Carter said, when contacted, the idea came from pupils who went pig hunting with their parents at weekends.

The Ministry of Education does not support children taking toy guns to school. Schools are self-managing and responsible for the day-to-day management of curriculum and play.

“We will continue to work closely with the school to ensure it meets its obligations of providing a safe physical and emotional environment for all students,” ministry southern regional manager Michael De’Ath said.

Mr Carter said the children’s request was discussed by board members, who thought it was pro-active in a rural environment where children were exposed to guns.

Three or four pupils made their own hand-crafted guns – no imitation guns were to be brought to school – and a small group played on Wednesdays in bush in the playground, supervised by teachers.

Children took turns to play the pig, with other children playing dogs who were “released” to catch the pig, Mr Carter said.

It was “purely a game” which was supervised and in a specified area and the children knew it was only once a week, he said. The board believed it had acted responsibly.

The school had also reinstated tackle rugby at the request of pupils. Board members felt the activities were meeting the needs of boys at the school “wanting that rough and tumble”.

Mr Carter accepted it was not something that should be widespread throughout the country and it was up to individual schools to make that judgement. He had had no negative feedback from parents or the community, he said.

I can understand why the Ministry might have some reservations, but fire arms are part of rural life and play like this is an opportunity to learn about fire arm safety while having fun. Country kids should be able to play country games.


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