Mouths taped shut at Wollongong school

The Wollongong Catholic Education Office is investigating claims a group of primary school children were told to tape their mouths shut during a musical rehearsal.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the 11-year-olds from St Francis Xavier's Catholic Primary School were rehearsing for regional heats of the Wakakirri performing arts festival on Monday when their noisiness allegedly got out of hand, Chief Inspector Mark Lavers said yesterday.

"A number of children were inside a hall practising for a concert, they were making a lot of noise, [someone] at the school got upset about that, asked them to quieten down, they didn't, as a result he's cut up a number of strips of masking tape and said 'stick them on your mouth'," Insp Lavers said.

The children were never forced to put the tape on, he said.

Insp Lavers said the incident was brought to the attention of police by a parent who complained their daughter had had a skin reaction to the tape.

However, he said it was unlikely any charges would be laid. He said the matter had been referred to the Catholic Education Office for investigation.

While some students laughed off the incident, Kaila Elsaki, who suffers eczema and is allergic to any sort of make-up was taken to a doctor by her parents.

"She's very dry around the mouth and just above the chin," her mother Marie Elsaki (pictured outside the school) told The Daily Telegraph.

Director of schools for the Wollongong Diocese Catholic Education Office, Gregory Whitby, stressed at this stage they were only allegations but he expected an investigation and recommendations to be completed in the next few days.

"The parent who made the allegation not only raised the issue with the school, but went to the local media, went to the police, went to DOCS and went to local politicians and made all sorts of accusations," Mr Whitby said.

Mouths taped shut (Daily Telegraph 27/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Wollongong
St Francis Xavier's Catholic Primary School, Wollongong

Catholic education top priority for family (Maitland Mercury 25/7/05)
School tapes noisy children's mouths shut (ABC News 26/7/05)
Minister briefed on school mouth taping incident (ABC News 26/7/05)
Student bully crisis (Herald-Sun 26/7/05)
Noisy pupils' mouths taped (Illawarra Mercury 27/7/05
School not talking on taping incident (Sydney Morning Herald 27/7/05)
Editorial: Keeping faith in secular schools (The Age 25/7/05)
Dennis Altman: Why our children should go to state primary schools (The Age 27/7/05)

27 Jul 2005