Sunday, June 19, 2005

DON'T TOUCH

j
I sort of looked like this at 5 years old. My favorite color was red.

During the 1980's there was this witchhunt for child molestors working with very young children. It got so out of hand, all sorts of obviously innocent people were sent to prison on very flimsy charges. Since then, rules have sprung up which are, I think, pretty inhuman since they preclude any sort of normal human touching which all children desperately need to grow up sane and happy.

Like all things on earth, touching has good sides and bad sides. In the effort to eliminate all bad side effects, the baby has been tossed out with the bath water.

Here is an example from England:
I find Ruth Kelly's plans to open hundreds of after-school clubs and the government's pleas for more men to work in them a complete joke. What happened to me when I was a playleader demonstrates why men steer clear of these jobs and why they are right to do so.
There could have been few men better qualified for the part-time job I took at an after-school club for four-to-11-year-olds. I was always a very active father and, when mine grew up, I missed that involvement.

I adored the job, but the restrictions imposed on me became unbearable. I have never been accused of abusing a child, but I was judged to be "too tactile". I lost my job, in effect, for being a man playing with children.
This poor man details how he was given demerits for touching children or letting them climb into his lap. Women teachers were allowed contact and lap sitting but not he! As if he were toxic. He was not allowed to hug children, either.

I used to work with children. Hugging and holding small children is what makes them sane. They crave this and need this and Mother Nature hard wired them for this. To prevent childmolestation charges, we always did everything in a group. So no one was ever alone.

This teacher in England was never alone with the children but that wasn't enough for the New Puritans. They wanted him to be the cold father figure, forbidding and distant. This model quite frankly, is a Frankenstein construct. And it is very harmful for boys, for example, to see this as their role model. Fathers who can't play with their children are a nightmare to live with. Most people who had to endure such a childhood usually have to deal with the alienation and anger well into adulthood. Why educators want this is beyond me. Hysteria.
I learnt in training about "inappropriate touching", being told that piggybacks were all right, but men shouldn't take children on their laps. Children would want to climb on my knee but I'd immediately stand up and push them away.

Last spring the committee told me I was "getting too close" to some of the children. They said I must stop holding children around the waist and only take their hands. It wasn't easy teaching children to skate that way and it was unpleasant to feel I was being watched and under suspicion.

One day a girl of nine ran up crying, saying she had been bullied by two boys. She leant her head on my chest and I put a comforting arm around her. For that I was given a written warning. Apparently, when she put her head on my chest it was "child-led touching", which was acceptable, but when I responded it was "adult-led touching", which was not. I was told that if it happened again I should fetch a female playworker.
How cruel. Heartbreaking.

Now for a confession: I was raped, yes, not touched, raped, when only five years old. This trauma was bad enough but the real damage is what happened to me afterwards: all adults who knew about this ceased touching me. Here I was, in great physical and emotional pain, everyone wanted to fix it but no one, not a soul wanted to touch my physical body. I remember very vividly crouching on the ground wailing my eyes out and feeling a finger touch me and then retreat. I knew I was doomed. I described my childhood in a diary at 16 as "a desert wider and drier than the Sahara and as devoid of life and love," and seriously contemplated suicide. When telling this, again, the sorrow, and sincere words of encouragement and at least three feet of space seperating me from my own parents. No touch. I was the family leper.

I have discovered an interesting thing ever since I regained the memory of this assault (this isn't fake, the man was put in an insane assylum for five years and he confessed to me when I was 40 years old)---if I tell someone about what happened to me, they will express horror and sympathy and not touch me. Period. Indeed, the physical withdrawl is quite visible since I am tuned into it.

My point here is this: even after being raped, I wanted to be held, held and comforted and touched...yes, by my father and by men in general. I wanted desperately to find safe haven in that particular port. When I read "The Scarlet Letter" I nearly screamed with rage. Like Heather, condemned to live alone in awful rejection?

This is why, when the sixties happened, the Summer of Free Love literally saved my life. I didn't have a boyfriend, the habits of being a nonentity all my childhood were hard to break so I did anonymous sex...but only for a short while, for I finally found men who wanted to touch me because they loved me, not because they wanted sex.

And so I was able, after much suffering (as well as surgery!) get married and have children and be happy.

This is why I pains me greatly to see men being treated like they are all child molestors. I was unlucky enough to meet one of those but 99.9% of the men in the world are not child molestors. I would gladly put up with the bad to be able to enjoy the good. I don't want women locked away like in Saudi Arabia nor children treated like they are toxic waste. We have to live with the bad to live for the good. A perfectly safe society is a prison.
I felt I was being victimised for being a man. I didn't think it inappropriate to hold children around the waist, but I agreed to adopt a "no touch" policy and withdrew from the children to concentrate on office work.

One day last June, I was suspended. Someone had allegedly overheard two children talking about me and had made a report to the police. I have never been told who it was, who the children were, or what they said.

The police never contacted me and when I rang them after six weeks they said they had no record of any investigation. It's impossible to defend yourself when you don't know what the charge is or who is accusing you.

But the fact a report was said to have been made led Ofsted to tell the committee to ensure I was always supervised when I returned to work last September.

I was asked to resign but refused. They produced a document citing "causes for dismissal", containing statements from eight people relating to incidents which they said supported their case.

Some of them were true, such as when I cheered up a girl of five who was miserable on her first day by holding her hands and helping her jump. One statement said the girl's skirt was flying up, "clearly displaying her underwear". The mother had given me a "look", but I didn't stop.

Other incidents were equally minor or could not have happened. A boy told his mother he'd seen me with a girl on my knee and my fingers in her trouser waist-band. I had never taken a child on my lap.
My best teacher in grade school was a man. In the fifth grade, he could see I was really messed up. So he began to give me books. He introduced me to Tolkien and to Don Quixote. He let me sit nearby while he graded papers, letting me read books. He weathered my outbursts of childish rage. I still remember him very fondly.

I hated all my principals. Their response to my sufferings was to beat me with sticks, this being the fifties. The cold, hard, Big Father, grim and vicious. Grrr.

Enough of this. Sorry to load this stuff on anyone...
|

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home