Why Can’t Teachers Touch Kids any More? :O’Brien

I couldn’t disagree more with the opinions expressed in Susie O’Brien’s column today. Allowing teachers to touch students, even innocently, is a step backwards. Every day we read news articles of teachers who have misused the privilege of working with kids and have overstepped the boundaries. It’s because of the evil minority that continue to heap shame on our wonderful profession, that these regulations are vital.

The rules that restrict teachers from hugging and touching our students without justifiable cause are not about political correctness, they are about common sense.  They exist to protect students, but in doing so, they also protect teachers from false accusations. I agree that it’s a sad state of affairs that I am obliged to keep my door open when having a private meeting with a student, but isn’t that a small price to pay for transparency?

I find Ms. O’Brien’s intimation that I can’t provide my students with the same standard of care due to the fact that I don’t touch them quite upsetting:

WHY can’t teachers touch kids any more? It used to be that teachers had total control over the children in their care.

They were allowed to hit them, cane them and handle them in pretty much any way they saw fit.

But they could also hug them, comfort them, and even check their hair for nits.

With the advent of political correctness, everything changed.

Teachers should be able to judge for themselves what contact is appropriate in any situation.

If we think any teacher lacks the ability to make such judgments, then they shouldn’t be in front of our classrooms.

For instance, take a look at the rules imposed on teachers in this state by the Victorian Institute of Teaching, which is the professional regulation body.

Their code of conduct says teachers are violating their professional relationships when they touch a student without a valid reason.

It’s a bit depressing that it’s come to this.

The code says teachers can touch students, but goes on to say it is a “difficult issue for teachers in the present climate”.

Apparently, teachers can touch students for comfort, guidance or acknowledgment, but not for any other reason.

And teachers are not meant to have any meeting with a student alone with their door closed.

It seems a pretty sad state of affairs.

As sad as it is that the evil few spoil it for the majority, these rules are vital. They protect teachers and students alike.

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5 Responses to “Why Can’t Teachers Touch Kids any More? :O’Brien”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    “And teachers are not meant to have any meeting with a student alone with their door closed.”

    I would think that provision only right and proper. In my work as a behaviour teacher I often had occasion to interview students privately on their own. That doesn’t mean it’s necessary to be behind closed doors. I always chose a place that was in full public view, the school quadrangle or the library, wherever there were other people coming and going but where one could have a quiet, private conversation with the student.

    Actually my preferred option for working with students in need of behaviour guidance was always within the context of a lesson which applied to all students so that the “target” student wasn’t singled out. This was not always possible because not all schools see the benefits of a focussed social skills lesson for all students. It seems to me, however, that problem behaviour rarely occurs outside a social context, therefore social skills are better learned within a group.

    There are often occasions where young children will spontaneously hug a teacher or an aide, perhaps as they are about to leave for home. This usually happens publicly and it seems to me to be perfectly normal and natural. Don’t expect it. Don’t reject it. Just be natural as if it were your own children or grandchildren. By grade 5 such expressions of affection become rare and eventually disappear, which, again, is natural and normal.

    I don’t think the rules surrounding these issues are necessarily politically correct nor should it be the case that a teacher initiates physical contact with a student, except where it may be necessary to administer first aid. I think I would have to agree with the VIT.

  2. clotildajamcracker Says:

    Its very important to teach kids that everyone is the enemy. They one day will be sent off to war and they won’t kill as many people if they are taught compassion.

  3. online masters degree english Says:

    Great post. I will be going through some of these issues as well.

  4. ann Says:

    Touch is a kind of communication that is deeper than words. It is a nature behavior response between people and other animals. I understand the rationale behind a no touch policy to protect teachers but really what has a world come to, that we can’t shoe compassion and support through an innocent touch.

    • Michael G. Says:

      Unfortunately Ann evil people have ruined it for the rest of us. They have made society very uneasy and these enforced protocols are designed to put parents at ease and restore some much needed trust.

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