August 9: Weekly Wrap

AUSTRALIA

Girl arrested after alleged stabbing at North Adelaide school

ABC News has reported that a 14-year-old girl has been arrested and charged by police after she allegedly stabbed another 17-year-old student at a North Adelaide school. News.com.au reported that the injured girl, who is in year 12 at St Dominic’s Priory College, suffered a cut to her shoulder in the attack after being stabbed with a knife by the girl in a bathroom. Catholic Education assistant director Michael Kenny said it was a “regrettable but a very isolated incident. Appropriate care and support is being provided to all those involved, including the staff and the students and we will have counselling and other arrangements on site to support the school community.”

Teen sexting ‘not necessarily’ child porn, former judge says in sexual violence report

According to ABC News, the final report of the Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse Steering Committee in Queensland, handed down this week, has declared teen sexting should not always be labelled as child pornography. The report noted an almost four-fold increase in the number of young offenders with reported child pornography-related offences in Queensland from 2011-12 to 2015-16. However, the Queensland Police Service (QPS) told the ABC it adopted a new policy on sexting in 2016. “In circumstances involving young people of similar age engaging in consenting sexual experimentation (including sexting), police are instructed to adopt an alternative approach to prosecution focusing on prevention and education,” a QPS spokesperson said in a statement. Report author and retired Supreme Court judge Stanley Jones said the increase was “undoubtedly closely related to advances in technology and the sharing of explicit images via mobile phone and online”. Justice Jones said there was a disconnect between current laws that can criminalise young people for engaging in sexting, which is becoming a normal part of healthy sexual relationships. He recommended introducing guidelines to help police determine when it is appropriate or inappropriate to lay charges against young people for offences related to sexting and sharing or receiving sexually explicit images.

Perth girl, 6, dies from severe allergic reaction after eating a dairy product

News.com.au has reported that a six-year-old Perth girl has died after having a severe allergic reaction to a dairy product. She is believed to be the first child in WA to die from anaphylaxis triggered by a food allergy. Association of Independent Schools of WA executive director Valerie Gould confirmed a girl from an independent school died from anaphylaxis after eating a dairy product. It was unclear where the child consumed the dairy product, but she believed an ambulance was called to the child’s home. Asked if the school was aware the child was allergic to dairy, Ms Gould said she understood the school had put everything in place to ensure her safety and wellbeing. She said AISWA had offered additional support to the school.

SA ‘lagging behind’ other states as student violence escalates, high-profile psychologist says

According to ABC News, two recent school stabbings involving teenage girls in South Australia highlight the escalating nature of student violence, as well as the need for a more consistent approach to tackling it, a prominent child psychologist says. Child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said violence in schools is a major concern and accused South Australia of lagging behind other states in its approach to the problem. Dr Carr-Gregg called on the State Government to “adopt the Alannah and Madeline Foundation approach to cyber-bullying education”, which he said is used in most other states. The Foundation has developed an online program aimed at tracking and preventing cyber bullying.

Teachers play a key role in helping students feel they ‘belong’ at school

The Conversation reported that the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) released a report on Australian students’ sense of belonging in school in May. It described as “disturbing” some of the differences in Australian students’ sense of belonging between male and female students, students from high and low socio-economic backgrounds, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds. Prioritising belonging within school culture is essential. If done effectively, educators can support students’ emotional and social development and enhance their motivation, effort and achievement throughout secondary school. A study from the US found students’ sense of belonging declines from year 7 through to year 11. With it, students’ educational aspirations also decrease. This decline may be due to a mismatch between secondary school students’ need for autonomy and interaction, and their learning environment. They may experience less supportive and caring teacher-student relationships, increased teacher control, and limited opportunities for autonomy.

Canberra school explosion: Early evidence points to gas canister explosion

According to ABC News, police are pointing to a leaking gas canister as the potential cause of a freak explosion which killed a Canberra father in the car park of his child’s school. Children in an after-school-care program were inside the school at the time of the blast, and it is understood the man had arrived to collect a child. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that ACT police, fire and ambulance services responded to reports of a vehicle explosion at St Clare of Assisi Primary School on Heidelberg Street in Conder. ACT Ambulance Service officers treated the man at the scene. He was transported to hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Cyber safety program for young kids set to be rolled out, but benefits under question

The Courier Mail reported that children as young as two could be educated about online safety and the dangers they may face in cyberspace as part of an agreement between the Australian Federal Police and advocacy group the Alannah & Madeline Foundation. The two organisations have supposedly signed a formal partnership to roll out training for parents and toddlers about cyber-bullying and the risks of child exploitation online. A survey of more than 1000 parents by nabtrade found an overwhelming 80.6% of parents still don’t think the government is doing enough to prevent cyber bullying and 88% think social media companies are lacking in their response to the worrying trend. A total of 58% of parents think schools need to step up and do more to combat the issue and 55% of parents are monitoring their children’s social media use, half of those in secret.

Anglican Church faces complaints over Peter Hollingworth remaining a bishop

According to ABC News, disgraced former Governor-General Peter Hollingworth has been named in several complaints to the Anglican diocese of Melbourne over his continuing status as a bishop in the church. The complaints have been made by survivors of abuse at the hands of Anglican clergy and teaching staff in the Brisbane diocese, where Dr Hollingworth served as archbishop in the 1990s. He was forced to resign as governor-general in 2003 after an inquiry found he allowed paedophile priest John Elliot to continue working until retirement, despite Elliot admitting to Dr Hollingworth that he had sexually abused two boys. Last year, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found Dr Hollingworth made a “serious error of judgement” in allowing Elliot to continue in the ministry, and that Dr Hollingworth failed to take into account a psychiatrist’s advice that Elliot was an “untreatable” paedophile who posed a risk of re-offending.

 

INTERNATIONAL

France passes new law banning smartphones, tablets and smartwatches in schools

According to ABC News, France will ban mobile phones in schools across the country from next month. A new law bans students up to the age of 15 from using “all connected objects”, including phones, tablets and smartwatches. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has previously said the ban is a matter of public health because children are not playing during breaks anymore. The smartphone ban was a policy French President Emmanuel Macron took to the last election. According to French newspaper Le Monde, there are exceptions to the law for educational purposes or for students with a disability, and individual schools can decide how they will adopt the law. High schools are not obligated to implement the ban, but have the option to do so.

School community offers support after body discovered at Westlake Boys’ High School

The NZ Herald reported that an Auckland school community is rallying support after a body was discovered on school grounds. Westlake Boys’ High School headmaster David Ferguson told the Herald there was an incident on the weekend, with an adult male in his late 20s found near the school’s bottom fields. “The police attended the scene and the investigation is currently with the coroner,” he said. Westlake Boys’ High School is located on Auckland’s North Shore and provides secondary education for more than 2000 boys in Years 9 to 13.

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