A woman has been banned from a Wellington childcare centre after a Ministry of Education staff member saw her "inappropriately restraining" a child.Every time I re-read the article that I have quoted in it's entirety above, it reads like a piece of satire to me - and yet it is not satire!
Even though the woman, in her 20s, was neither a parent nor a staff member at Miramar's A'oga Amata Childcare Centre, the ministry is continuing to monitor the Samoan community centre.
A ministry spokeswoman said a staff member saw someone "inappropriately restraining" a child during a visit to the centre on April 23. The child was not hit or hurt, but the ministry staffer immediately told the centre's head teacher and the woman involved was banned from the centre during opening hours.
The centre was not closed, and no further incidents had been reported, the ministry said.
"We are continuing to monitor the centre to ensure all children are safe."
The centre's management committee chairwoman, Tuitama Leaupepe, told The Dominion Post the incident was a "wakeup call".
The daughter of the centre's supervisor had been on the floor with the children and was seen "stopping" a 4-year-old boy from hitting another child by putting her hand on his arm, she said.
However, she did not see the incident, so could not be sure.
The woman was spoken to by the ministry staff member, asked to leave, and told not to come back again.
The centre had assured the ministry such an incident would not happen again.
"It was unlucky that ministry were here on the day," Mrs Leaupepe said. "Of all of the days she had to come in and do something like that. It does not put us in a good light."
The centre had a no-hitting policy, but staff usually told children verbally to stop if they were found to be "rough-playing".
There were 25 children enrolled at the centre, which had four registered and qualified teachers and one awaiting training, she said.
An Education Review Office report in March said A'oga Amata Miramar Inc "is not well placed to promote positive outcomes for children" after areas for improvement identified in 2009 had not been dealt with.
Although there were some good systems and processes in place, a lack of positive communication and cohesion between the management committee and teachers was evident, it said.
The ministry was aware of other issues identified in the ERO report, and it was now working to support the centre with additional help.
They say that, "We are continuing to monitor the centre to ensure all children are safe," and yet what they really is that they are making sure no one interferes with the whacking of children by other children, because that is what children do in their natural environment and interference in that is wrong.
They have a no-hitting policy, so if little Johnny is trying to punch little Timmy, all they will do is ask little Johnny very nicely to stop and if he doesn't, they'll tell him he shouldn't have done that, and meanwhile, little Timmy has been hurt, and no one did anything physical to stop the violence against him.
One wonders what the staff would be expected to do it little Johnny was coming after little Timmy with a knife! I can just imagine it. No, Johnny, don't hurt Timmy, put the knife down. Oh, you've done it now, see Timmy is on the ground and bleeding. Maybe we should phone an ambulance, as Timmy is bleeding quite a lot. Oh no, don't keep stabbing him, Johnny!
What's even more amazing, is that the anti-smacking law does allow for force to be used when it is to prevent harm, and yet the Ministry of Education seems to want to ignore that part of what is and isn't acceptable with regards to force with children.
This is a very, very, very disturbing story and needs some sort of action, like a kick in the backside of the Ministry of Education staff who are enforcing policy that is going to make preschool environments incredibly unsafe for children if the adults aren't allowed to even physically stop children who are about to harm another one.
Related link: Banned for 'restraining' preschooler