Music teachers advised not to touch children to avoid abuse claims (UK)

elegraph (UK) 09 November 2008

Music teachers are being told to have no physical contact with children during lessons to protect themselves from allegations of abuse. The guidelines from the Musicians’ Union have prompted an angry response from teachers who claim that some contact is essential, when showing a child how to hold an instrument or use a keyboard. The union says its “no touching” advice was prompted by members’ concerns at a growing number of “misunderstandings” that led to false allegations of child abuse and automatic suspension while the claims were investigated. The Sunday Telegraph has learnt of one case where a cello teacher was told by a school’s child protection officer to stop touching pupils when showing them how to hold the bow.

But a spokeswoman for the Musicians’ Union, which last week held its first conference on child protection, said: “A cello teacher should have a cello to show a pupil what to do. There should be no need to touch.” The guidelines issued to its 30,000 members, most of whom teach at some point in their careers, say: “Instrumental teachers working with individual or small groups of pupils may find themselves in vulnerable situations where their professional conduct is questioned. “Any physical contact with pupils can be potentially subject to misinterpretation or even malicious allegations. The best advice for instrumental teachers is to avoid physical contact with their pupils altogether.”