NASUWT campaign for anonymity

October 4, 2004

False Allegations – The Campaign for Anonymity.False, exaggerated and malicious allegationsA legal injustice is being perpetrated against teachers.Those accused of child abuse (sexual, physical, verbal assault) face investigation into the allegations without any provision for their identity to be protected.Current legislation:Allegations against teachers are investigated under the Children Act.The effect of its operation is to reverse normal criminal convention. Teachers accused of child abuse are almost always presumed guilty. There is a popular view that an allegation is in itself proof of guilt.Media involvement:Cases are often leaked to the press at the investigation stage by a variety of people, including the parents of the child, other parents who hear rumours and by pupils.There is nothing to prevent the press publishing the allegations and clearly identifying the teacher.The effects:Once an allegation has been publicised, even after the teacher has been cleared, dismissal or inability to return to work is almost certain.Parents at the school often operate on a ‘no smoke without fire’ basis and campaign against the teacher’s return.The teacher’s health is damaged. Breakdown is not unusual. In extreme cases suicide or attempted suicide has been the result.The effects on the teacher’s family are also devastating.The scale of the problem:Teachers are particularly vulnerable to such allegations because of the nature of their job. Some pupils have no compunction about making false allegations against teachers they dislike.Over the last few years there have been 1,782 allegations against NASUWT members alone.In a staggering 1,686 no grounds have been discovered for prosecution.Eamonn O’Kane, General Secretary, said:“NASUWT has been campaigning on this issue for a number of years. Although we have achieved some significant changes to the child protection investigation procedures, we have yet to secure appropriate amendments to legislation to obtain anonymity, up to the court judgement, for those facing allegations. “This is not an attempt to protect those who abuse children. Such behaviour cannot be tolerated. “All allegations must be investigated thoroughly and if the person accused is subsequently found to be culpable then the appropriate consequences should follow.“Providing anonymity does not hinder a proper investigation or protect abusers. It simply enables justice to be done in a civilised and fair manner, strengthening the principle of innocent until proven guilty and avoiding trial by media.”

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