Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the UK, teachers accused of sexual assault to be given anonymity and other protections that should be granted to all men accused of sexual assault

This blog has long advocated the implementation of measures to insure that the good names of the men, as well as those few women, accused of sex crimes are not destroyed on the basis of unsubstantiated sexual assault allegations.  We also advocate for speedier investigations of and prompt determinations regarding every allegation, and for withholding punishment until a thorough investigation concludes it is warranted.

It is astounding that our advocacy is attacked by radicals as misogynistic when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Now, the UK is about to implement every one of those measures described above in dealing with claims of assault and sexual abuse lodged by students against teachers.

A bill was recently quietly promulgated by the Secretary of State for Education that would keep the names of teachers accused of assault or sexual abuse secret until they have been formally charged by police.

According to the Telegraph: "The move comes amid fears that hundreds of long-serving teachers have had their careers ruined after being subjected to unfounded claims by children. In many cases, it is feared pupils or their parents make allegations of assault or sexual abuse to settle a score with staff or even win compensation." 

The Bill "is also expected to lead to fresh guidance being issued to schools in an attempt to speed up internal investigations, stop heads automatically suspending staff when allegations have been made and wipe unproven claims from teachers’ employment records."

According to the Daily Mail: "Unions praised the moves to protect teachers from false allegations . . . ."

The Telegraph reports that the action follows the publication of figures showing as many as a quarter of teachers have been victims of false accusations by pupils

Giving special treatment to teachers and not all presumptively accused men stems from the assumption that false claims are rampant in schools and not elsewhere.  This is an assumption open to debate.

It does not trivialize the harm to falsely accused teachers to assert that false allegations lodged against men in all manner of other professions, not just teaching, cause similar destruction to innocent lives, yet the teaching profession is singled out.

Why the special treatment?  Make no mistake, these protections are proper -- but they should not be limited to teachers. They are limited to teachers because they are supported by powerful teachers' lobbies and suggest politics as usual.

There is one other thing going on here that deserves mention because it is of paramount importance.  The issue about whether teachers should be afforded protections has not been couched as "men versus women," as was the debate last summer in the UK over anonymity for men in general who are accused of rape. Instead, the issue here is framed as "besieged teachers versus vindictive students."  It is being treated very quietly, as a non-issue, almost in an effort not to engage the sexual grievance industry. The fact is, however, that while some sex charges (and make no mistake, sex allegations are the principal reason these protections are deemed necessary) are lodged against female teachers, the majority of sex allegations against teachers are lodged against males. Yet, thankfully, gender isn't being discussed.

In a war where women's groups have won every single rape skirmish in the past 25 years, it is well to note how this particular issue was framed, and to examine if other rape issues can also be presented as something other than just one more skirmish in the battle of the sexes -- skirmishes that, sadly, men always lose.

The Telegraph:; The Daily Mail: