Otago Daily Times
April 17, 2001
'Teacher touching' issues explored
Wellington: Public anxiety about sexual abuse
has changed the relationship between children and teachers in New Zealand, a new book says.
Touchy Subject: Teachers Touching Children is a collection of opinions from
educationalists from New Zealand, Samoa, Australia, Britain and the United States.
The book's publishers, University of Otago Press, said the book asked
questions such as whether New Zealand had gone overboard with
the "hands-off" approach to touching students, and whether men were
being put off teaching.
Two contributors, Sarah-Eve Farquahar and Richard
Johnson, believed the current concern about child sexual abuse in schools had
seen men avoiding working in early childhood education out of fear. They said
male and female teachers were frustrated at being seen as potentially dangerous
The book aimed to "contribute to a more critical, complex and careful
debate about the significance of child safety policies" in New Zealand schools and early
childhood centres. It included a chapter by Lynley Hood, the author of a book
on the Peter Ellis case. Her chapter suggested that the Christchurch Civic
Childcare Centre case, in which Ellis was convicted of abusing children in his
care, arose out of a convergence of three big movements in the 1980s - radical
feminism, religious conservatism and the child protection movement.
Other chapters deal with changing views on school discipline, and attitudes in
Maori and Samoan communities towards child-rearing.
The book's editor is Alison Jones.
She gathered most of the chapters from a symposium at the University of Auckland where she is associate
professor at the school of education