Should teachers take a professional pledge?

There are various occupations that require a pledge touphold certain values, including police officers and lawyers. Teachers are notexpected to make the same commitment, despite educational institutions rankingas the second most-represented group according to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

An article in The Conversation recently delved into this space, with author JohnWhelan contending that teachers should indeed take a professional pledge. Heused various examples of child victims of sexual abuse and outlined why it istoo easy for employees of educational institutions to avoid their duty of careto students.

It may sound like a neat idea but it is a flawed one belowthe surface. Reading out a pledge is not going to make these people any lesslikely to commit such atrocities. One need only to refer to the sixth paragraphof the article.

"Of the institutional categories employed by the commission, educationalinstitutions were the second-most-represented: 29.8% of the total. Of allalleged perpetrators, about one in six was a teacher, and by far the majoritywere male. Importantly, many were also clergy."

Members of clergy make what amounts to a pledge when theyare ordained, yet this clearly wasn't a deterrent in the instances where abusewas apparent. This is the same for police officers and lawyers who break thelaw and abuse their positions.

However, Whelan does hit the nail on the head when he admitsthat simply reading out a statement is not enough. Combatting the prevalence ofsexual abuse in schools requires a constant effort by the educationalfraternity to be diligent and thorough, to promote moral practices and tostress the importance of "ethical decision making" during teacher training.

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