Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NSPCC Threatens Music Teachers

Fury of music teachers over 'no touching' diktat

Looks like the NSPCC are at it again, ostensibly protecting children by persecuting innocent adults. Well, they have to do something to keep all that lovely public money pouring in.

Music teachers have been told to avoid physical contact with pupils because of fears of accusations of paedophilia.

The Musicians’ Union has released a video, backed by the NSPCC, calling on members not to touch students.

It said the policy would protect tutors, who face immediate suspension if an accusation of inappropriate touching is made and often have their careers destroyed even if they are found to be innocent.

But teachers have branded the film a ‘hysterical overreaction’ and say it is likely only to heighten children’s anxiety about paedophilia.

They point out that touching pupils is often the only way to straighten backs, reposition hands or correct other common errors made by developing musicians.

The film, Keeping Children Safe In Music, shows a sinister-looking music teacher helping a boy to play the violin. As the teacher intervenes to correct his play by putting his hand on his shoulder and his fingers in the correct place on the strings, the youngster looks concerned.

A voiceover says: ‘There are times when you need to demonstrate particular techniques.

‘In the past, this has been done by touching students, but this can make them feel uncomfortable, and can leave teachers open to accusations of inappropriate behaviour.

‘It isn’t necessary to touch children in order to demonstrate: there’s always a better way.’

The scene is then replayed, with the teacher demonstrating on his own violin rather than touching the boy.

The film, which is also posted on YouTube, describes itself as an ‘online resource allowing anyone teaching music to children to gain a better understanding of their child protection responsibilities and avoid situations that could lead to accusations of misconduct’.

Music teachers writing on the website of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, which also backed the film, called it ‘madness’.

One wrote: ‘It’s much better to steer a child into position than spend ten minutes trying to get them [there] without touching them. It’s also far from protecting children. It’s bringing them up to think that there is something dirty about touch and to be suspicious.’

A mother who teaches piano wrote: ‘If a child slouches while playing, a small prod in the small of their back will make them sit up without disrupting the flow.

‘Child protection vital but we’ve lost sight of the wood for the trees.’

The head of a music school posted: ‘Those who have turned caring adults into teachers and relations scared stiff to touch a child are the ones who should be told “hands off”.’

Josie Appleton, of the Manifesto Club, which campaigns against over-regulation of everyday life, said: ‘This official video makes everyone paranoid about touch and the creepy tone makes out that all violin teachers are like paedophiles and presents all touching as lecherous.’

A Musicians’ Union spokesman said: ‘Having to be more creative and find alternatives to touching reinforces the learning process. We would be being irresponsible if we did not advise our members of the risks they are taking if they do make physical contact with children.’

An NSPCC spokesman said: ‘The NSPCC works with many organisations helping develop policies and guidelines. The aim is for these to be proportionate to the circumstances.’

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