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I have a question to ask on behalf of a friend.

She has just given an apprentiship to a young lad. She seems to remember hearing years ago about men in childcare having to have a cushion on their lap in order to allow a child on. I recall hearing the same thing but neither of us can remember if it was outdated rules or heresay.

 

Has anyone heard the same or similar and if so where was it from?

 

We both are adamant that this lad shouldnt be treated any differently and would oppose any such ruling, no parents have commented in anything other than a positive way and the children clearly love him, but her boss has never employed a male and wants facts and figures with all the i's dotted and all t's crossed on all poicies, so I said I would ask for her. xD:o

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On the recent child protection training I did at the end of October, we were actually advised not to put children on our laps although it was agreed that there might be circumstances when it was appropriate. Nothing about cushions!!!

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I have a question to ask on behalf of a friend.

She has just given an apprentiship to a young lad. She seems to remember hearing years ago about men in childcare having to have a cushion on their lap in order to allow a child on. I recall hearing the same thing but neither of us can remember if it was outdated rules or heresay.

 

Has anyone heard the same or similar and if so where was it from?

 

We both are adamant that this lad shouldnt be treated any differently and would oppose any such ruling, no parents have commented in anything other than a positive way and the children clearly love him, but her boss has never employed a male and wants facts and figures with all the i's dotted and all t's crossed on all poicies, so I said I would ask for her. xD:o

 

I had a male student working in Pre-school in a large day nursery. He loved the children and they loved him. he would sit reading stories and playing with children very gently and patiently. they would often be seen to jump all over him, ask for a cuddle or a story on his lap. he was never ever left alone, which would have been the same rule for a female student. this went on for a year until one day a mum saw her daughter sitting on his lap having a story read, with me sitting on an opposite table playing with a construction toy. Mother went to complain to the manager- outcome being he was not allowed to make any contact at all even when the children asked for a cuddle etc. . he was really emotional and very distressed.. It was terrible, i argued the case but lost, the manager felt it was for the best. :(

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That's really sad - he should have complained back! Surely it'd be covered in sexual discrimination legislation? Or am I living in cloud cuckoo land.

To be fair, I'm not really so surprised - a setting where I used to work employed quite a few male staff (large chain) and had a blanket policy of not allowing them to be left alone (even after vetting), work with babies, do nappy changes or toileting of older children. However, these same staff were taken on as trainees working towards NVQ, and all were able to pass, despite not being allowed to carry out these basic duties. It was accepted as policy in the setting so theoretical knowledge (Q and A) was deemed sufficient. Hmmm.

 

Sue

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What kind of message will we be sending children about men if we begin to insist on them having a cushion on their lap to cuddle a child, or on preventing them cuddling children at all?

 

This thinking needs to be challenged. We need more men in early years: we need to make them feel welcome and valued for the skills they bring to the work. We'll hardly achieve this if we view them with suspicion and if the first thing we consider is whether they are - or are potentially - child abusers.

 

Our vetting systems should be rigorous enough to prove to any parent that all practitioners employed in the setting are safe, skilled and suitable to work with the children we care for. Our equal opportunities policies are for everyone - children, families and practitioners. To make an exception when it suits us because the issues raised are difficult to handle is just unacceptable.

 

Rant over!

 

Maz

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Rant accepted and judged to be fair comment!

 

But how can we challenge and change these ingrained attitudes?? And that's a serious comment, I would love to be able to change this.

Obviously with my usual tact and diplomacy, Sue! I think it needs to come from the top, but fortunately these messages are so much a part of training these days that the newly qualified members of the team are also well placed to take up arms in the battle.

 

I have become much more proactive in asking the "why" question, myself. And if the answer doesn't prove the other person's argument, I ask for more information. And if anyone says "research shows" I always ask them to summarise what the research says, and for the source. And then if they can't do that I wait a while and let their discomfort sink in.

 

I'm lucky because I have the authority in my setting to challenge this thinking and at the end of the day if equality of opportunity is not promoted in my setting it is my responsibility. But I do genuinely believe everyone has a role in making things better - otherwise we'll continue going round the same old merry go round!

 

Maz

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Some time ago my current setting had a young male who was great with the children, and took his fair share of the 'dirty work' as well as the good stuff - he left for his own reasons, but I still miss that 'male' presence. Perhaps that's another reason I feel it's a really important issue?

 

However, you have to have the male of the species applying, to be able to employ them, and that's just not happening around here at the moment. :o

 

Maybe I should hit the streets with my sandwich board???

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So what happens when this young lad eventually becomes a dad?...................or maybe we should 'vet' all men before they become fathers. No, this would be as unacceptable as expecting this apprentice to act in a way different to any other member of staff.

I can just imagine the risk assessment, well actually I can't...............it would read something like................

Cushion on lap reduces the risk of what?? :oxD because it stops what??? :(:( possibly occuring.

Not to have a cushion on the lap increases the risk to a child of what?? :( :wacko: , because the lap is dangerous ( riskful) of what?? xD :rolleyes:

 

In other words, what is the actual fear/risk? :unsure: ;)

What risk has a male lap got that a female lap hasn't?? :ph34r::ph34r:

 

or am I being naive (spl?)

 

 

The serious risk we have as Sue R points out is that if we follow these myths then we perpetuate the discrimination. Attitudes can change otherwise we would still tolerate Black slavery, this type of discrimination towards men is as bad as racial discrimination. We don't tolerate racial discrimination, we challenge it, so why tolerate this, why do we find it so hard to challenge?. The answer sadly is fear of accusation, fear of mis-interpretation, fear of having our judgements challenged ( how do you know he's safe??). We do not tolerate this discrimination because we fear for the childs safety, we all know that the male workers in our settings are an asset and not a danger, because we have systems in place to check and supervise ALL our staff irrelevant of their sex.

Is it ok for children to be in an environment of fear, they will sense the trepidation each time they want a cuddle or to sit on a lap for a story, we all know how easily children sense the 'atmosphere'. We MUST challenge disciminatory thoughts as well as actions because children will pick up on them. So as well as being totally unacceptable for the men to have to face daily discrimination, so too is it unacceptable for children to be in an atmosphere of fear portrayed by the people who are there to make them feel safe and secure.

All woman should try and envisage how they would feel if they faced this discrimination EVERY day, would we tolerate it then? Our right to be embraced as parents, carers, educators should be the same for all men.

 

ditto Maz's rant as well.

 

Peggy

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Maz, your comment was priceless!!

 

Peggy, I wholeheartedly agree!

 

But what do we have to do? Start an action group or campaign for men's rights??

 

Sue

 

 

I think the main thing we can do is challenge all these myths at ground level, and not buckle under the fears, show our children that to stand up for our believes and principles is good and challenging discrimination empowers change of attitude and therefore actions. We have to role model not just non discriminatory practice but also role model how to challenge discrimination when faced with it's consequences.

 

Peggy

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we had parents who would make really positive comments about this young man, to some children he was the favourite member of staff and they talked about nothing else.

It just took one parent to spoil everything by a complaint that wasn't justified. If he had done something wrong then yes, the manager was right to act but he didn't.

 

 

As soon as it was mentioned, some staff thought hard about it and said that they could understand and went along with the manager. I had five other members of staff working with me who were shocked and very cross. :(:(

 

This young man was a real brick. He carried out woodwork activities, spent hours with construction and train sets. His story telling was great, and role play, and apart from all of that he would do anything for staff and was a real gentleman.

 

He left to go to another day nursery and was placed in the baby room- I wonder what happened with nappy changing :oxD Soon after I left the setting too.

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