Abuse cases deter men from becoming teachers

HIGH-profile court cases involving allegations of male teachers committing indecent acts on children have created a steady decline in young men waiting to join the profession.

Last week a Mackay teacher was found not guilty of inappropriately touching an 11-year-old student.

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said media attention on these cases meant young men considering becoming teachers were sometimes dissuaded.

"I don't see there's any way a young person couldn't but notice the public perception of men in teaching is one of doubts about the genuineness of the person's intentions," Mr Bates said.

"As a consequence I think there has been, over time, the effect of dissuading some men of choosing teaching as a career."

Mr Bates said over the past two decades, the percentage of female teachers had increased from about 70% to about 75%.

A Queensland Education Department spokeswoman said all teachers in Queensland were required to submit to criminal history checks before they could be registered to teach.

Information-sharing agreements also exist between police and the State Government's statutory body, the Queensland College of Teachers.

"The department's ethical standards unit can investigate any breach to the public service code of conduct or the departmental standard of practice regardless of whether the matter (appears) before the courts," the spokeswoman said.

Penalties under the Public Service Act 2008 range from a reprimand through to a fine, mandatory training, a reduction in classification and termination of employment.

Mr Bates said it was important for children to have access to male teachers.

"The critical issue for any student is they have a good teacher - the gender is not the defining issue," he said.

"But I think what parents have as a perception is that having both male and female teachers provides for a good balance in terms of needs of individual students.

"Some kids respond well to male teachers, some to female teachers - it's about individual needs."


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