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oppositional defiant disorder, as well as a number of learning and developmental disorders.

Providers of services to these families feel overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of children they are in contact with who have challenging behaviour. There are long waiting lists for families wanting support from key government agencies. This is a clear instance where Tauranga’s rapidly growing population is outstripping the capacity of the local social service infrastructure to respond.

Anecdotally, we hear challenging child behaviour is having an increasing impact in schools. One principal said the number of children in her school with “mild to moderate disruptive behaviour problems” had risen from one or two per class 10 years ago to four or five per class. A teacher described the difficulty of securing support for the children and families affected by such behaviour as “frustrating and frightening”.

It is a similar picture in pre-schools. Tauranga families use private childcare centres more frequently than parents elsewhere in New Zealand, and pre-school support staff supplied by Group Special Education report a heavy demand from these centres for help in managing the behaviour of children under five years.

Tauranga has a higher rate of truancy than the national rate. Those working in Tauranga schools say the fate of children not attending any school is a key concern.

The table below demonstrates the number of children either excluded or exempted from Tauranga schools over a four-year period.

FIGURE 2: EXCLUSIONS AND EXEMPTIONS FROM TAURANGA SCHOOLS (2000-2004)

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Exclusions

Primary

1

6

1

3

1

Intermediate

6

5

7

11

15

Secondary

41

27

46

21

28

TOTAL

48

38

54

35

44

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Exemptions

Employment

Female

3

2

3

1

7

Male

15

10

11

21

20

Polytech

Female

3

3

10

3

1

Male

9

9

6

6

8

Training Provider

Female

24

30

35

28

42

Male

38

25

55

51

46

TOTAL

92

79

120

110

124

SOURCE: Ministry of Education Regional Office

Another perspective on the impact of challenging child behaviour is provided by the local police. As a percentage of total apprehensions, children under 14 years are more frequently dealt with by the police in Tauranga than nationally. Tauranga police also deal with more young people aged 17-20 years (28% of all apprehensions) than the national average (23%). These statistics

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