In a recent survey of 223 male elementary teachers in Ontario, nearly 13 per cent reported they had been wrongly accused of inappropriate contact with pupils.
The study, to be published in the McGill Journal of Education, found the incidents ranged from a male teacher chastised for holding the hand of a female student to more serious accusations that took weeks to resolve.
The following are quotes from participating teachers supplied to researchers at Nipissing University.
I live life on the edge every day I step into the classroom. All it takes is one parent/fellow teacher to perceive that the line between nurturing and pedophile is blurry and I am a dead duck!
Yes, I believe the general population do not feel that men can be nurturing to small children. When a pupil hugs a male teacher flags go up all over the place. When a pupil hugs a female teacher, people say she's caring
The fear/threat of misconduct allegations is always present in your mind. The rules that govern my female colleagues with regard to student contact is much less rigid.
J'ai tenu la main d'une fille et om'a dit tout de suite de faire attention tant dis que cela se fait chez les femmes tous les jours. Translation: I held the hand of a girl and they immediately told me to be careful even though that happens everyday with the women teachers.
[It was]very, very stressful. It really makes you think, 'Why bother!' It makes you think you should just do the job as described and forget about being HUMAN!
After the suspicion, I seriously reconsidered my career choice and began to re-evaluate whether or not I made the correct choice. I also began to think about whether or not it was worth it or not to stay in the profession or enter a more male dominated profession.
A parent wanted her child moved to a room with her friends. When this didn't happen she suggested to the principal that I was a danger to the females in the room. When an investigation proved otherwise, I was accused by the same parents of being gay, and thus a threat to the boys. An investigation again proved otherwise. But the child was moved and the parents got what they wanted. I was in the position of starting a new position in a new town. The allegations were devastating. I wasn't sure where to turn or how to deal with the problem. Fortunately, I had a strong, supportive, caring, and professional principal. When you are accused of something like that, you're terrified. All of your work, your time, your commitment, your hopes, and your dreams are on a dangerous precipice. It is terrifying, and takes a long time to get over.