Study says paedophile stigma turning males off teaching
The fear of being labelled a paedophile is cited by senior school students as a major reason for not pursuing a career in teaching, according to an Australian Catholic University survey.
The Catholic Weekly reports that the study was conducted by the University's School of Education among male teacher trainees and Year 11 and 12 students. The study follows a decline of male teachers in primary schools from 30% to 23% between 1984 and 1998, and the revelation that men are twice as likely as women to leave teaching while in the prime of their careers.
A key tension cited was the fear of being labelled as a possible child abuser. Despite awareness of current child protective policies, media reports of abusive male teachers had left a negative impression on men in the profession, according to the participants. One expressed concern that he could "no longer even put his hand on a child's shoulder in order to comfort a child or make a child take notice."
The participants also nominated the stress associated with being a male role model in a mainly female workplace as another reason why males avoid or discontinue a teaching career.
The report says the findings have major implications for education administrators, policy makers and school executive staff. It said educators needed "to honestly address tensions existing among male teachers and prospective teachers in regard to the issue of child protection and recognise the pressure currently placed on these teachers".