UK music teachers infuriated by "no touching" order

Written by: Manoj Kumar Ramesh
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London, Dec 29 (ANI): Music teachers in Britain have expressed their fury after they were told to avoid physical contact with pupils over 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.

"There are times when you need to demonstrate particular techniques," the Daily Mail quoted a voiceover as saying.

"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," it concluded.

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

"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'," the head of a music school posted.

Josie Appleton, of the Manifesto Club, which campaigns against over-regulation of everyday life, said the 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.'

"The NSPCC works with many organisations helping develop policies and guidelines. The aim is for these to be proportionate to the circumstances," an NSPCC spokesman added. (ANI)

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