While I was having my lunch today I did what I do most days and I read the news online to see those stories they aren’t talking about on the radio (I mostly listen to talk-back radio when I’m driving around for work). I was on the new website for National Nine News when I noticed a rather shocking headline in the top news section.
South Australia Abuse Shock: Men could be banned as child carers after sexual assault case
And here’s the link I saw;
Of course I had to click on that link because I had to read the story. As I was waiting for it to load, albeit fairly quickly, my mind was taken back to that day, two months ago as of tomorrow where the #yesallwomen hashtag started trending on Twitter after the killing spree in Isla Vista, California, by 22-year-old Elliot Rodger.
To remind you, the #yesallwomen trend was a social media campaign in which Twitter users shared comments and short anecdotes of misogyny and violence against women. Comments ensued on websites that reported the story of this trending with men using the #notallmen hashtag in response and the often used parody hashtag #notallwomen soon followed.
And then there’s the hashtag that’s since become used on Twitter which reminded me of this story I read today; #yesallmen. You see, just because, yet again another man has been charged or convicted of child abuse whilst working in the childcare industry it has to be assumed that yes, all men ARE capable of abusing children. And even though it’s often reported that women are also responsible for child abuse in the childcare industry, not all women.
The Wiggles were formed in 1991 when three young men who met at university were studying early childhood studies to become preschool teachers. They were joined by a former band mate of one of the members who was a member of a band that was a household name on the Australian music scene as well as another man who was working on the university’s early childhood music program.
Recently I read an interesting fact about The Wiggles. The pointy Wiggly fingers movement that they do was created so that when they met young fans and had their photos taken with them they would do the movement so there was no doubting where their hands were and that would hopefully shield them from accusations of touching a child inappropriately. Whilst I think that was very clever of them, it is also a sad indictment of the way that male performers who entertain children may be seen.
Recently a fellow Dad Blogger took his kids to see Justine Clarke. He got a photo taken with her and his kids. Nice. After I read that story about The Wiggles worrying about possible claims of touching kids inappropriately I did a Google Image Search on Justine and saw quite a few photos where she has her arms around the kids who are getting their photo taken with her. I guess that no one would expect a female entertainer would touch a child inappropriately.
Interestingly enough, a few years back when they fully recast the line-up of the Australian children’s musical group Hi-5 for the first time, the troupe set out on a tour of shopping centres to meet and greet the “old” fans and drum up support for the new line-up with new fans. This was back when our first born son was not yet even one, and was still not at the stage that came a few months later when he became obsessed with The Wiggles.
Still, my wife took him to meet them and to get some photos taken. Note that in the photos one of the female stars is holding the child and both of the male performers are book-ending the group which no doubt may have been a conscious decision of the producers or their minders much in the same way The Wiggles kept the men in the group from touching the children.
And whilst the Wiggles have brought joy to the faces of many a child and entertained them for hours on end better than most parents could hope for, and parents have been more than willing to offer up their children to get photos with the guys – and one might suggest a parent or two over the year has even suggested the child “give The Wiggles a hug” – I wonder what the reaction of those same parents would have been had they have turned up at preschool to pick up their child only to find out that a male teacher was now on staff. You know, Murray, Greg or Anthony, those three that could have been preschool teachers had The Wiggles not had the success they’ve had.
I heard an interview a few years back with a former surf reporter on Sydney radio who was a teacher earlier on in his career. He had been pushed out of the profession by his fellow female teachers and was excluded from their activities. If my memory serves me well, he left the profession when he feared that made-up rumours were starting to emerge within the faculty and, fearing the worst, he decided to get out.
It’s a shame that this happens because I feel that we need more men in the teaching profession, not less. That’s more men not just in the head teacher or principal roles, but also in the front line teaching the children. And I believe this needs to be in all levels of teaching; from preschool up to high-school, and then even beyond (although male university lecturers are far from being a rare species, so it’s not like they’re losing out there).
I’m not sure a ban on men in the childcare industry is something that should be put in place, but other measures can be taken into consideration to prevent abuse so that those who are good and decent male child carers can pursue a profession that they have their heart set on.
Featured image sourced from Nine News; click here for link.
What do you think? Should men be banned from being child carers?