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Grooming in an Unregulated Profession


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#16 Aquarelle

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 19:49

I know someone who is currently  involved  in  government investigations into  any possible abuse at the main music schools in the UK and finding out about their attitudes, practices and safeguards. My friend  said that he thought I would know all about this sort of thing but it had  come as a surprise to him to discover that a violin teacher might need to touch a pupil to get a particular position right. I pointed out that this would also often be the case of a singing teacher and certainly the case for dance and gymnastics teachers. You don't let a child fall off a vaulting horse because you are afraid to catch her!  but it was interesting to see how a non musician could  easily misconstrue an innocent gesture. Of course parents should be careful and children well warned but I certainly agree with the points made above about the uselessness of regulation. I think it would do more harm than good.


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#17 tangerine

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 21:33

I wholeheartedly agree that parents should be made more aware of the risks, and that they should check very carefully when they leave their child with someone else in this profession. However, most of the time, they do not. 

 

To my mind it's about minimising risk, and this is where DBS check ARE useful and valid as they weed out those who people who have previously offended, although if the offence is completely unrelated to children (eg financial fraud), then that would not be seen as a risk. The Soham case is often quoted as a case where Huntley would not have been seen as a risk, and doubtless there are others - no system is completely fool proof, but DBS checks do reduce the risk. Fees for enhanced DBS checks have just been reduced to £40, and I don't think this is a huge sum to pay out once every three years.

 

Psychologists (educational or otherwise) would not be needed to screen potential offenders. I don't see that as necessary, but I do feel that private teachers should attend a safeguarding course so that they understand when to be concerned, and how to deal with any concerns they have. All schools and local authorities run these sessions on a very regular basis and most are happy to allow outsiders to engage in them. I don't think giving up 2-3 hours of one's time every year is too much, and I have never been asked to pay.

 

Abuse is usually carried out by someone known to the child, so saying that the elderly man who has been teaching in the area for years and is known to everybody is not a guarantee of safety. In my area recently a young man took his own life because he had been abused 30 years ago by someone who was well known in the area. The young man was not believed and he lived with this torment for all that time until he could bear it no longer. At that point, a proper investigation was carried out and the offender (now nearly 80) is in prison. 

 

Children are taught about personal boundaries, but often do not realise that they are being groomed. The predator will spot a vulnerability in the child and will home in on this weakness, offering support and comfort. The child comes to trust the abuser and that's how it begins.

 

I do not see minimising the risk to children as a problem.


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#18 Boogaloo

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 00:08

a violin teacher might need to touch a pupil to get a particular position right. I pointed out that this would also often be the case of a singing teacher

 

I'm afraid this is now very much advised against. It is not necessary to touch any pupil to get them to change hand position, bow hold, become aware of their breathing, etc.. The ABRSM video on Safeguarding advises such and the ISM Safeguarding podcast also advises that this isn't necessary. Both of these are available for anyone to watch. Of course, they are in addition to school Safeguarding annual courses. Sometimes it is hard using words to describe hand positions etc but it is entirely possible - I have to do this for classical guitar. The vocal teacher I know does not use any touch either. Imagination is key!


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#19 Hildegard

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 08:16

Some 50 years ago during training as teachers we were told in no uncertain terms (if somewhat crudely) "Do not handle the goods!"


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#20 Love piano

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 08:41

A lot has already been said on this pertinent and difficult subject, but just to offer a different perspective based on a recent experience. 
 

A few weeks ago I had a message from a teenage girl, who I didn’t know, asking if I would do some accompanying for her (she’s a flautist) ahead of key auditions for Music College. Her friend had recommended me, who I knew slightly. 
 

in the back and forth exchanges, I asked if her mum knew she had contacted me - “yes, but I make all my own arrangements”. I asked her if her mum would drop me a brief line to give “permission”, and the young lady agreed. 
 

the next morning her mum sent me a message along the lines “I believe you want my permission for x to come and see you....it’s fine..,,I don’t know why you’re asking as x makes all her own arrangements”.

 

im pleased to say it all worked out fine.....but to back up the point that’s already been made, parents & others need to use common sense as well. 
 

I have a DBS check (for what it’s worth), I am a member of ISM, and I offer parents to sit in / walk in on any lesson at any time..... but some parents never come in, never ask any questions. 
 

I guess the message is - that’s it’s all our responsibility to ‘police’ this area. 


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#21 ten left thumbs

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 09:02

 

 

...

 

I guess the message is - that’s it’s all our responsibility to ‘police’ this area. 

I'm with you on that. Constant vigilance. Personally I'm glad the profession is unregulated, however my opinion really isn't important. If it were to come, then we would just need to deal with it. 

 

I am rarely asked about disclosure checks (I think once in 10 years). Business-wise, it really doesn't make sense for me to bother with them. I know I haven't been convicted of abusing children, and I know I have no wish to abuse children, so I really don't see what going on a course would do for me or anyone. I am vigilant, and I do have training from my job some years ago. 

 

For what it's worth, I also recently started a more hands-on approach (for piano) and I have to say it works really well. I ask, may I take your hand, and they normally just offer it. I also invite a student to take my hand to feel, for example, muscle tension and relaxation. I also do clapping games. I have an open door policy and parents can come in at any time. Some do, some don't. When they have younger toddlers, it's quite difficult for them to sit in. 

 

Also for what it's worth, I recently took up violin as an absolute beginner. My teacher and I did some hands-on stuff at the start and it was completely invaluable. With words I just had no idea what she was talking about. She put her hand on my arm, and we began to get somewhere. 

 

Tangarine, I think it's really great that you noticed this particular thing going on and did something about it. But I don't think you will find a consensus here for regulation. 


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#22 zwhe

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 09:12

Some 50 years ago during training as teachers we were told in no uncertain terms (if somewhat crudely) "Do not handle the goods!"

When I did my teacher training we were taught how, when & where to touch the children - there was no suggestion that it should never happen. There are too many scenarios where it would be cruel/cause danger, for example during fights or if they are ill. Given that I have had to change nappies and restrain kids in school, I could hardly do that without touching!

Having said that, teaching one-to-one is different, because you are on your own. It is one of the reasons I prefer parents to be present for young children. It is almost impossible to get a 6 year old to position their hands correctly without ever touching them (especially if they don't know left/right!), and if the parents are in the room, there is no need to be careful. With older children and adults, it is very rare that I need to touch them, and I always ask first and explain what I want to do.


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#23 zwhe

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 09:19

 

I am rarely asked about disclosure checks (I think once in 10 years). Business-wise, it really doesn't make sense for me to bother with them. I know I haven't been convicted of abusing children, and I know I have no wish to abuse children, so I really don't see what going on a course would do for me or anyone. I am vigilant, and I do have training from my job some years ago. 

 

 

Child protection courses are not to teach you to behave, they are about spotting the signs of an abused child, or knowing how to respond if someone discloses something! Yes, most of it is common sense, but I am always amazed at how many people answer questions wrong in the 'exam' at the end. One of my favourites was someone who thought that if a child said they were being abused by the head teacher, you should discuss it with all your colleagues to get advice on what to do!


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#24 Hildegard

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 09:42

Some 50 years ago during training as teachers we were told in no uncertain terms (if somewhat crudely) "Do not handle the goods!"

 

When I did my teacher training we were taught how, when & where to touch the children - there was no suggestion that it should never happen. There are too many scenarios where it would be cruel/cause danger, for example during fights or if they are ill. Given that I have had to change nappies and restrain kids in school, I could hardly do that without touching!

 

There is bound to be a difference between primary and secondary training. I did the latter.


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#25 zwhe

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 09:49

That's brave! I went into secondary schools a couple of times doing supply and hated every minute of it!


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#26 Dorcas

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 11:42

Going to one of the professional bodies, or umbrella groups, to ask for a DBS check is in fact good practise, regardless of whether or not it meets the criteria for good business practise.  


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#27 The Great Sosso

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 12:20

I wish somebody would explain what harm can come from touching another person's hand or arm to correct posture, and perfect technique.  Sometimes, particularly with young ones, touching is the best way to get them to isolate a particular muscle and understand what they must do.

 

"Touching" is a word that has become laden with lewd connotations when it need not be.  It is perfectly possible to touch a person in a way that is not threatening, nor inappropriate, nor able to be misconstrued.

 

If one of my students went to the police and said, "My piano teacher assaulted me, when she gently lifted my wrist!" would they even take the trouble to interview me?

 

I can see that there is a case for not embracing, stroking, patting and other forms of social touching in case they are misconstrued, but to advise against touching for purely instructional purposes only feeds into the moral panic that anyone who touches anyone must be up to no good.  And then of course nobody can touch anybody because everyone thinks that as touching is "not allowed" it must be creepy.  

 

Anyway, I await my arrest. 

 

TGS X


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#28 ma non troppo

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 12:43

I reposition fingers, hands, arms and shoulders a lot, but I am very careful how I do it. It is a very deliberate but "forensic" touching and I only use the very tips of my fingers to do it.

Sometimes young children snuggle up to me and even try to sit on my lap when I am teaching them. That's a bit difficult! Usually with the ones this age a parent is present though - I've never had a parent have a problem with it - they usually laugh.
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#29 ma non troppo

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 12:44

I must say, in addition that although I recognise the need to protect children, that I do feel there can be an atmosphere of damaging paranoia when really Draconian rules and regulations are adopted. The vast majority of teachers are not abusers!
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#30 Banjogirl

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 13:41

Fostering went through a phase of banning touching, but it was clearly ridiculous and cruel. There was also the 'don't sit a child in the front of the car in case they accuse you of touching them' phase, again easily shown to be pointless. A child that's willing to lie isn't going to suddenly develop scruples about not lying about where they were sitting. A child that's going to lie is going to do so whatever you do our don't do, and saying, 'but I never touch my pupils' is not going to be any kind of defence, so if you need to touch them in your teaching you might as well go ahead, as long as they understand why you're doing it.
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