Saturday, 2 February 2008

It Can Happen To You

An allegation of assault is an ever present danger - it can happen to anyone ! In today’s world all it takes is one false accusation of impropriety or molestation to ruin a teacher's career forever. A misinterpreted glance, an accidental touch or a myriad of other things can easily spin out of control. Once falsely accused the teacher’s career is ruined regardless of the outcome.

The best way to prevent such false accusations is to not allow the opportunity for them to occur. The ‘two deep leadership’ rule is that no adult above the age of 18 will ever be alone with a child. This prevents the uncertainty of any one-on-one contact between an adult and a child. When an allegation comes out of a one-on-one conversation it is at best a no win situation for both parties with no one knowing who to believe. At its worst, the character and liberty of the teacher is placed in jeopardy and the school as a whole gets a black eye.

The best way to prevent such false accusations is to not allow the opportunity for them to occur. In following the concepts of ‘two deep leadership’ there should always be another teacher around to witness the events and provide another unbiased side of the story. With this immediate and unquestionable backup of the teacher’s story, instances of false accusations are greatly reduced.

When you find yourself disciplining or talking to a student in a one-on-one situation consider moving the conversation to somewhere that is public yet private enough to speak with the child. In other situations you may wish to move down the hallway to a position where a neighbouring teacher can see you through their doorway or window. If the conversation must be private see if it is possible to move the entire conversation to a conference room with windows or some other room that is visible by another teacher. Consider creating a simple, school wide hand gesture to inform your co-workers that you have to have a conversation with the student and you would like them to be an uninvolved witness.

Each day brings more and more news reports of teachers being falsely accused of criminal acts against children. Whilst some of these cases may be valid, it is also likely that most of them could have been avoided completely if the teachers had seen fit to guard themselves against the false accusation in the first place.

Sadly the ‘two deep leadership’ rule did not work in my case - quite the reverse !


Warning :

(You can lose contact with your own children if under 16 years)

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