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Tue 26th September 2006

Children quarantined from men

Filed under: Boys / Youth / Education — JohnPotter @ 10:07 am

Children are being “quarantined” from men by sexist recruitment policies in the early childhood sector, an industry body says.

Early Childhood Council chief executive Sue Thorne said children were missing crucial contact with male role models because men felt unwelcome in the profession.

The problem was linked to the “paedophile hysteria” that followed Christchurch’s Civic Creche abuse scandal involving Peter Ellis in the 1990s.

It was now too dangerous for male teachers to cuddle a distressed child or change a nappy because of the culture ā€” and some parents refused to send children to centres that employed men.

Female domination of this industry is nearly complete:

A report issued yesterday by the Childforum research network says sexism is rife in the early childcare sector.

Of its 13,741 employees last year, just 132 were men, researcher Sarah Farquhar said.

“The child abuse argument has proven to be a convenient excuse to keep men out of an occupation that has been a site for feminist activism since the 1970s.”

There was no evidence that male teachers were more likely to abuse children, she said.

New Guidelines

New relaxed guidelines on physical contact between teachers and children are to be released today.

The guidelines advise NZEI members “to use common sense in all areas of their interaction with children and be mindful of situations that may expose themselves to unnecessary risk.”

Males teaching at primary schools are the next target:

A report by Auckland University education lecturer Alison Jones, released in 2003 highlighted interviews of primary school teachers and principals who spoke about their reluctance to touch children because of widespread social anxiety about sexual abuse.

The teachers reported wet and naked children wandering out of pool changing rooms looking for help in getting dressed, and girls lying prone on sports fields while male teachers sent children to find a female to help.

“In many instances, female teachers have had to be called away from their own groups to assist male colleagues afraid to touch or be alone with a child.”

3 Responses to “Children quarantined from men”

  1. Al D Rado says:

    This post is very wrongly titled.

    It should instead be something along the lines ‘After ridding the pre-school teaching profession of men, based on a baseless hysteria of possible sexual abuse, that any man even vaguely seen to ‘touch’ a kid is clearly a pedophile, we can now revoke the no-touching policy, since with less than 1% of the industry being male, we have won our anti-male cause’

  2. Kai says:

    My ex-partner is an early child-hood teacher and has observed to me on a number of occasions that when a male is present at the centre they are almost always the subject of a very fascination and study by the children – especially if, as in a few cases there have been male teaching relievers.

    In these cases the children – presumably due to lack of contact and novelty – would attempt to monopolise the teacher or parent’s attention and generally watch their every move! šŸ™‚

    Having the opportunity for contact with quite a few early childhood teachers it seems obvious to me there is a great deal of support for men to enter the industry.

    Although there are certainly a VERY few who are suspicious and hostile – however, in those cases I observed, those individuals were basically somewhat questionable individuals whose behaviour was similar to their other female colleagues.

  3. Peter says:

    Hello.

    ‘Equity is the application of a particular notion of fairness: positive discrimination. In schools, it involves the provision, not of equal resources, but of unequal resources and attention to groups of students so that fairer outcomes can be achieved.’

    (Alison Jones. Politics, Policy, Pedagogy Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand 2000).

    E.g. At the start of a new school year the teacher asked a girl to share her holiday experiences with the class. Once she had finished the girl had to choose the next speaker. Not surprisingly, she chose another girl. When each and every girl (however none of the boys) had had the opportunity to speak the teacher announced that there wasn’t any time for further speakers. At this two of the boys’ mothers remarked on the obvious and left the room in disgust. The tone had been set for the year.

    From that year my son had only six pages of work in his maths book. The following year he was scoring 25% in tests when I enrolled him in after school classes for only one hour each week. His improvement was dramatic. He was soon scoring 95% in tests (often 100%). Similarily, through his attending a computer club, again for only a hour each week, he was able to gain a ‘High Distinction’ (99 percentile) in the Austalian Schools Compitition.

    And also from Alison Jones;

    ‘Boys’ Domination of Airspace and Teacher Attention’

    ‘Studies of the gendered use of space tend to show consistently that men take up more room when they sit or stand,…’

    (Alison Jones).

    Oh I’m so sorry, I must remember to cross my arms and legs twice whenever I’m in the company of ladies!

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