It's frightening what men have to deal with in schools now. They don't want to touch children and they're afraid of being alone with a child. A climate of mistrust around male teachers has been created and that puts a lot of stress on men in schools and creates confusion among children.
Her survey of male teachers [PDF] uncovered an "overriding sense of hopelessness and regret" about the social norms governing their contact with children. As one teacher wrote:
It is sad that I feel I can’t put my arms round a child to comfort them the way a female teacher or parent does.
Indeed. Worse than sad, I'd say, the underlying gender norms and social attitudes are downright immoral. Cushman summarizes the findings:
Although there were teachers among the survey respondents and focus group participants who set aside the ‘no touch’ policies, they were very much a minority. Most teachers chose to endure the concomitant anxiety and humiliation associated with avoidance of touch rather than engage in practices that left them vulnerable. The resultant hands-off behaviour is, of course, the very behaviour advocated in the code of practice. However, adherence to these NZEI guidelines was seen by some teachers to be invoking ‘paranoia’, and there was fear that the children themselves might develop an unreasonable suspicion of male teachers. Despite the suggestion in the code of practice that teachers explain why they cannot respond to physical contact, most males did not heed this advice, or were unaware of it. As one pointed out, how, exactly, does a male teacher explain to children that because of his gender he is untouchable?
See also: A Climate of Fear.
N.B. This is in a New Zealand context -- I'm not sure whether other countries are quite so bad.