Those of you who follow my blog know how concerned I am about the threat of false allegations against teachers. Data has shown that it is one of the major factors for driving potential male teachers away from the profession. I have a friend who was accused of innapropriate touching by a child for doing nothing more than guiding the child’s hand in a handwriting exercise. She did nothing more than help the child hold the pencil correctly and it landed her in hot water, until the child recanted on his original claim.
But as much as I abhor false accusations, I am aware that the role of the teacher is to put the welfare of the child over their own. If students were prosecuted for false claims, it would have dire consequences for the wellbeing of the student population. The threat of prosecution would ultimately deter students from speaking up against teachers who have genuinely molested them. It is already difficult for victims of sexual assault to speak out and name their perpetrators, lets not put any stumbling block that may keep them quiet.
Still, it seems as though I am in the minority of teachers on this one:
Pupils should be routinely reported to the police after making unfounded claims simply to get their own back on teachers, it was claimed.
The NASUWT union said lying schoolchildren “must understand there is a consequence” to making allegations that are “unjust and malicious”.
The comments came as new figures showed the vast majority of claims made against teachers were unsubstantiated.
Data from the NASUWT shows that fewer than one-in-20 allegations of unlawful behaviour made against teachers last year – including assault, sexual abuse and serious threats – resulted in court action.
Addressing the union’s annual conference in Birmingham, activists insisted that pupils who make false claims should be prosecuted.
Ian Brown, a teacher from North East Derbyshire, said: “Schools must have procedures in place where, when allegations are made, the pupil is made aware at the earliest point of the investigation, through their parents if necessary, that if they wish to proceed with the allegation and are found to be lying, then they will face sanctions.
“They must understand there is a consequence in making those allegations if they are found to be unjust, lies and malicious.”
According to figures from the NASUWT, most allegations made against teachers last year failed to result in court action.
Some 103 claims were made, with no further action being taken in 60. Some 39 are yet to be concluded, although the union claim the vast majority are unlikely to ever make it to court.
Just because most claims against teachers fail to lead to conviction doesn’t mean they were erroneous. Protecting the welfare of children is tantamount, even when it comes to the expense of teachers.
As much as I would like to see children punished for any salacious lie, I desperately don’t want any prohibitive regulation that would deter genuine victims from seeking justice from their perpetrator.