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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3725 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

The approach to boys' discipline has been masked by the threat of the cane or corporal punishment until the last two decades. During the corporal punishment era that spanned many centuries, it was a given fact that a boy would behave for a teacher or get the cane. Many teachers were feared, loathed ...

We do not want to see that coming back, by the way.

... or both, but the fear of physical punishment or reality of it, kept most boys in check.

That was not a problem for girls, of course, although it might be for my daughter, when she gets a bit older! The article continues:

It is believed that the removal of corporal punishment has been a factor in the deterioration of boys' behaviour in schools as is attested to by the boys themselves! A breakdown in respect for authority in society generally, has also meant that a teacher now must prove himself/herself before they will receive a student's respect.

The cane has gone, corporal punishment has gone, and it is so much harder now for teachers-males and females-to gain that respect, so they can move on to the next phase of teaching those kids. If it is hard for males, it is a damn sight harder for female teachers. This is the problem. Perhaps it goes to the heart of the issue that five times as many boys as girls are the disengaged and those responsible for disruptions-and thumb their noses.

Ms Gallagher: That is because the teachers can't manage them, is it-because they are girls? That is what you just said.

MR PRATT: I did not say that, Ms Gallagher! Mr Deputy Speaker, I rest my case that this is the background to it. I think this clearly illustrates the problems that schools now face. This is why-especially primary schools, where we need to engage with little boys from ages eight through to 12 and get them sorted out-there needs to be a rebalance in the structure of the gender make-up in schools.

I am sure the government is trying to do that. Katy and I have spoken about this before. I would like to encourage them to do a great deal more about it. I would like to encourage the government to lean much more heavily on the department, which I think has its head stuck in the sand, as it gives undue prominence to the Martin report and not much else. We need to recruit male teachers, we need to undertake more programs in high schools where we encourage young men to look at teaching as a career. Our little boys-and our little girls-in primary school need good male and good female role models. I stress that they need good female role models as well, but they do need both.

Against that background, I support Mrs Burke's very wise motion. I encourage the government to take note of what Mrs Burke is saying here today, to see if it can do something about it.

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.09): After listening to those two

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