Playground assaults on the rise

THE rate of assaults on school grounds in the Richmond-Tweed in 2009 was three times that of the Inner West of Sydney, according to recent research.

A NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report released yesterday showed that there were 138 violent incidents per 100,000 students in the region last year, compared with 44 in Sydney’s Inner West.

Central Northern Sydney came at the bottom of the list on 39, while the State’s Far West recorded 342 and North West 330.

The local figure is slightly higher than the State average of 129.

However, in 2005 it was 81, which reflects another finding of the study – that there had been a ‘statistically significant’ growth in the rate of recorded assaults incidents between school-aged children on government school premises during school hours in the past five years.

However, the report notes, ‘while the upward trend in assaults on school premises may be due to an actual increase in assaults, there is also reason to believe that, in recent years, schools have been much more likely to report assaults to police’.

And on the positive side, the findings indicate that school-aged children are much safer on school grounds than outside them.

In fact, the recorded rate of assaults on school children off the premises (432.5/100,000 of school-aged population) is more than four times higher the recorded rate on government school grounds (106.2 per 100,000 of enrolled student population).

The bureau found there was no evidence that assaults between school-aged children on school grounds were becoming more serious, or that there was a greater use of weapons.

Although the majority of assaults (78.6 per cent) were between students, in 11.8pc cent of cases the victim is a school employee and the offender is a student.

Police-recorded assaults by teachers on students were very rare (3pc).

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