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Common Sense Contact

Media Release

26 September 2006

Common Sense Contact

New Zealand First is pleased that the NZEI has taken a common sense approach in its guidelines to teachers’ physical contact with children.

“There are countless occasions during a normal school day when it is appropriate for teachers to be in contact with children, from a congratulatory pat on the back to helping with toileting,” said Education spokesperson Brian Donnelly.

“When a child is upset, a hug and a few soothing words are often all that is needed to stop the tears, as any parent will testify. It’s quite ludicrous to suggest that teachers should not be able to provide that, and it’s pleasing to see this recognised in the guidelines.

“Having said that, it must be clearly understood by all teachers and childcare workers that they are in positions of power, and that parents trust that their children will be protected and valued. Physical contact with children must always be contextually appropriate and respectful.

“The 90’s climate of panic over child abuse resulted in less than helpful definitions around appropriate contact, which undoubtedly contributed to the decline in numbers of men entering the teaching profession.

“This in itself is a problem for our children, many of whom will go through the education system without ever encountering a male teacher. I hope that the NZEI guidelines signal a more balanced and less paranoid approach to teachers’ contact with children, which in turn might help to make teaching a more attractive career option,” said Mr Donnelly.


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