As a Statutory Social Worker one of the tasks I had to complete was to determine whether I believed a child or young person was in need of care and protection, Continue reading
This post is a bit longer than normal and it may offend some people, hopefully it will allow us to think in depth about a very problematic issue that is current.
The news about Daniel Patrick Livingstone was surprising for me. I was concerned about this man and his potential for further offending as were a large number of people. When his profile is laid along alongside that of Tony Robertson who ran over and raped and killed Blessie Gotinco Continue reading
Not your everyday greeting I will grant you, and by far not the worse thing I have ever been called in my time as a teacher. It is however problematic. I am relief teaching at the moment. Continue reading
I remember the sense of wonder that I used to feel as I crested the divide that marked the entry into the wonderland that I knew as Auckland. Auckland was a place of magic, I remember a song from Calamity Jane, “they’ve got shacks up to seven stories” springs to mind. The magic started for me with the big wide roads that then led onto the motorway. This winding piece of black that wound its way closer and closer to what for me was just the most amazing place, downtown! One place in particular.
We moved from the booming metropolis of Gisborne, somewhere around 1970, in Gisborne we did have one lift, ( I was terrified of lifts but that’s another story)and a magical vacuum tube system (A Lamson tube system to be precise)in a department store, The Melbourne Cash Department Store. The store was devastated by fire, I can still remember to this day the smell of the wool that had been burnt http://tinyurl.com/pe9v5eo. Downtown Gisborne seemed so huge, I had visited another big city, Christchurch but apart from memories of Tinytown I think in Christchurch or Lyttleton and a Magic shop in an arcade in Christchurch perhaps a function of my age.
Hamilton had DIC department store and a sprawling Farmers but two stories was as big as it got, Auckland however, well Auckland had neon lights, a cowboy, no less, twirling his magic rope,and drawing on a cigarette, that was exciting enough to an 8 or nine year old from small town New Zealand but wait there’s more. Auckland had a Farmers store, it was this amazing cornucopia of everything that you could imagine a household needed, it had escalators, escalators, my lord, I could not believe it, freedom to travel up at speed without the terrifying, Tardis like lift. This sprawling mini metropolis was an explosion of sights and sounds. Its crowning glory was however the tea rooms, “Harbour View Tearooms” with attendant magical playground and Hector the Sulphur crested Cockatoo. Farmers and Auckland were synonymous to me, no visit was complete without a ride on the Farmers Free Bus and a trip to the top of the world.
The magic lasted till my early teens and then I started to notice some of the things in Auckland that were not so magical. The first of these were the Iron Giants, the power pylons that I saw. These pylons followed the Motorway but in places they were in peoples back yard, I asked my dad about it and he said that’s Otara, it wasn’t till later till my political awakenings that I understood what exactly that meant. I remember thinking to myself I never wanted to live near one of those monstrosities, I knew nothing of EMF, links to Leukaemia, interference with TV and Radio signals, I just thought they were ugly, sinister, things. Grey sentinels, guarding just what I didn’t know, they were dark, scary portents of doom to me. The other overwhelming negative experience was experiencing the brown fields of Mangere, a brand new suburb of houses and overwhelming nothingness, I was 15 at the time and had read about suburban neurosis and after a week in Mangere thought I understood just a little of the despair that the women of Mangere may have felt trapped in their homes without cars or public transport and vast tracts of red brown sticky clay.
These memories came back to me as I travelled through East Tamaki today, driving past the artefacts of civilisation, huge chimneys, huge pylons and greyness, as I reflected (hmm does curse equal reflection) on the traffic and my conflicted relationship with Auckland. My relationship with Auckland reflects my life at the moment, I have an ongoing every workday relationship with Auckland at the moment, I love the vibrancy, cultural diversity and opportunity that Auckland has to offer, I don’t like, actually I despise the vast disparities that I see in Auckland, the broken people and the so called elite. They are all there. Auckland is where the jobs are but not where I live… to be continued
Values, what are they today? I am applying for teaching positions at the moment. The last vacancy I applied for came back to me asking what qualities would I bring to the position. Iwas a little surprised at first, partly I think as a result of being a little overwhelmed by a big week with some emotional and physical challenges in it. Continue reading
I am enraged, Stephen Dudley’s life counted for nothing in a courtroom in Auckland this week. Justice Helen Winkelmann demonstrated her complete lack of touch with reality in discharging the second of two brothers without conviction. This was no petty misdemeanour, not a boyish teenage prank, this was an unprovoked attack on a vibrant young man that ended in his life being lost and Justice Winkelmann in her manifest wisdom decided that to enter a conviction against the main instigator of this would be a consequence out of keeping with the crime.
Her reasoning behind this, is that fights like this occur every day in schools around New Zealand, this indeed is the heart of the matter, never mind the asinine judge (Peters Principle probably) because she in the end only reflects societal view (around school yard violence). I have no doubt that these brothers are remorseful, that they have suffered consequences, (exclusion form a prestigious school they attended so I am led to believe), family and church consequences. They walk free in time they will become anonymous and whilst they have to live their lives in cognisance of their actions so do Stephen’s family. From whatever side you look at this it is a tragedy that is seemingly without cure.
Stephens’s family think that their loss has been made even worse, salt has been rubbed into their raw and gaping wounds, and they think a law change is necessary. The offender’s family think that justice has been done and the consequences of this moment of madness will be with the boys and the shame of it on their family for ever. The reality of this situation is that it is broken forever and cannot ever be fixed. If Stephen’s life is to count for anything however there must be a change.
What is it about our society that creates a norm where violence is endemic and an incident where a young man loses his life is labelled as just another school yard fight like hundreds of others every day. Yes it has been going on for a long time but it only continues because we as a society condone it. We condone violence in our school yards and our homes, the same as we condone abuse and all the other social ills that blight our society like an invasive cancer.
When it manifests itself we wring our hands and look inwards for a moment and nothing changes, there is no accountability for any actions or violence. Schools are left with very few options to try and mop up the mess that starts in the home and is accepted by the community.
Recently I walked from the security of a full time job to go back to day to day teaching because of a school that at its heart had developed an acceptance of violence and disrespect. In my teaching I confront and challenge the narrative of violence that underpins our society. In my opinion assault is assault and it is time that it was treated as such. Punch one of my children in the school yard and I will refer it to the Police and expect accountability, should my children offend I will hold the same position and ensure they are held accountable.
See below for more posts on a similar vein
I recently wrote about prison walls not needing to be made of stone to keep someone incarcerated. I lived a life in incarceration for many many years, largely based on some fictional representation of myself that I established as a narrative in my life. I have blogged at length about the reasons for that, largely fear driven and I realise habitual. Continue reading