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Ogilvy applauds rethink on physical contact policy

Ogilvy applauds rethink on physical contact policy

United Future education spokesman Bernie Ogilvy has welcomed news of a review of the primary teaching policy of avoiding any physical contact with children.

The New Zealand Educational Institute, the primary teachers' union, confirmed this week that it is looking at the policy in the light of Auckland University research showing a cycle of self-surveillance and anxiety among teachers over the issue.

"It's sensible, it's realistic, it's compassionate and it's human - all qualities that we want teachers to display.

"The policy was borne of an over-reaction to rare situations in which a teacher might sexually abuse a child.

"But what we've lost in trying to protect against that is normal and natural interaction between good teachers and healthy kids. Teachers have become scared of even the most innocent physical contact with children.

"Changing that policy will simply say, yes, there are issues of safety and appropriateness, and we all know where the boundaries lie, now let's get on with educating our kids in a healthy and normal way," Mr Ogilvy said.

"It is ridiculous to hear the lengths that teachers have to go to in order to avoid normal physical contact with children - of male teachers not feeling free to help an injured child until a female teacher is called. It's crazy stuff.

"It is a good sign if society is stepping back from some of the paranoia that has dogged it in recent years.

"The pendulum is swinging back to the centre. Common sense is getting a look in once again," Mr Ogilvy said.

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