Sunday, March 28, 2010

five-year-old stuck in tree and school policy banned officials from helping him down

The Sun--

MELKSHAM, England, March 25.

Trouble started when a five-year-old boy at Manor Church of England elementary school in Melksham, England, March 1 climbed a 20 foot tree at the end morning break and refuse to come down.

The staff following school guidelines for scenarios such as this one, retreated back inside the school building to "observe the child from a distance" so that the child would not get "distracted and fall."

The boy who was perched on a limb 6 feet off the ground was later rescued by Kim Barrett, a mother of a six-year-old daughter who attended a different school had noticed that the boy had been in a tree for quite some time after recess.

"I stopped to ask him if he was okay, and it became clear that he had been there since the end of play time, which had been around half an hour earlier." Said Barrett, "I was immediately concerned. I walked over to the school with the boy and was met by the associate head.
He didn't appear at all concerned, and was actually very patronising, patting me on the arm and asking me 'what do you expect me to do, exactly, dear?'

''When I said I thought it was a serious incident, he then said his only concern was me trespassing.

''I was initially surprised that no one appeared to have missed this boy, no one could have known where he was because they could not have seen him from the school, and I was shocked at the way I was dealt with.''

the next day, Ms. Barrett got a visit by a police community support officer who advised her that she had committed a trespassing offense by helping the young schoolboy down from the tree.

''I felt really angry because I felt I had saved the school and this boy from something that could have been far worse, and that instead of thanking me I was under investigation.

''It was ridiculous. He was all on his own, there was no one near him and you couldn't see the school buildings from where he was.

''Not only was he at least 6ft off the ground, but someone taller than me could easily have reached him from the pavement and plucked him off the branch."

Headteacher Beverly Martin confirmed that it is the school's policy that prevents staff from going to the aid of children who have climbed trees.

A spokesman for the school said that "the only danger as far as the school is concerned with a stranger came onto the premises and talk to the child, who was being observed."

Additional sources for the story...
The National Post
St. Louis Globe Democrat
The Sun

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