We’re all protective of our kids. We worry, we obsess, we overreact. The reality is that right now, as in this very second, is the safest time in human history. In fact, between the time I wrote this and the time you read it the world will have gotten slightly safer (hooray future you!)
So why are we so paranoid?
This comes to mind because of a situation at my kid’s daycare. My youngest is in full-day preschool and though the centre is great there has always been a lot of turnover in the staff. Between both of my girls over span of nearly three years, they have probably had two dozen teachers, all amazing, all women. Until now…
A few weeks back a shocking email came to me: my daughter’s class was going to have its first male teacher. My reaction? AWESOME! I admit at first I was like “oh wow, a guy” but that was only because seeing a male teacher before high school is like spotting a white rhino. Rare.
I want my daughters to grow up with as much perspective on life and society as possible. That means that interacting with males, other than me, is important. That last sentence alone probably shocks some people. “Aren’t all non-related men predators and weirdos?” “What kind of ‘man’ enjoys teaching young kids?”
It’s the same mentality that bans coaches from even putting a hand on a player’s back when giving instructions. The same feeling I get when my daughter occasionally has a fit in a public place and I get a look that says: “Are you really her father?”
While the majority of pedophiles are men, the vast majority of men are not pedophiles. Estimates range from about 0.5 to 2 percent of the population. Of course any profession or position of authority that interacts with children requires extensive background and police checks which lower that risk even further.
Although I thought having a male influence in the classroom was great, it appears other parents weren’t so sure. The male teacher in question–despite being hired by the daycare, cleared in the background check, and otherwise good at his job–has been told to not change diapers due to feedback from parents.
Can you imagine how this young man must feel? He probably feels a little betrayed by his employer, embarrassed, and perhaps a little guilty that his co-workers will now have to shoulder more responsibility that he will.
All this because the default position for many in our society is that a man who enjoys teaching and nurturing children must have something wrong with him.
The battle for gender equality often focuses on girls, and clearly that is a front that needs attention every day. However I would suggest that instead of battling pink LEGO, we'd be better served helping make female-dominated roles just as acceptable for men as we are committed to doing the opposite.
This man is the victim of gender discrimination, yet many will see the compromise as acceptable. Why? Because we have an over-inflated sense of the risk factors our kids are exposed to. Everyone likes to protect their kids, and I am no different, but we need to draw the line at judging an entire group of people based on the actions of a tiny minority (gee... where have I heard that one before?)