Saturday, July 18, 2009

'Vast majority' of allegations against teachers are false

"Teachers accused of abusing pupils should be given greater protection to counter a rising tide of false allegations, according to MPs.

Ministers should consider giving teachers similar rights to anonymity as children or rape victims amid fears thousands of careers are wrecked every year.

The cross-party Commons Schools Select Committee warned that the "vast majority" of complaints made against school staff lacked foundation.

Unions claim pupils are often motivated by revenge after being reprimanded for bad behaviour.

MPs disclosed how one child aged just seven told a head teacher: "I will get you suspended".

In a report published on Thursday, the committee quoted a Government study that suggested more than 4,000 complaints were made against teachers and school support staff in 2006/7.

But research from teachers' leaders shows only one-in-20 allegations ever leads to a criminal conviction".


It is interesting to observe the double standards that the media have adopted over the issue of false accusations. When it comes to teachers, the fact that "only one-in-20 allegations ever leads to a criminal conviction" is taken as evidence that the courts are working efficiently and the vast majority of allegations are therefore malicious. Outside the field of education, the low conviction rate is seen as a scandalous disregard for victims; it is assumed that all allegations are true, the courts are not working, and that 'vast numbers of men are getting away with it'.

Apparently children - and men - sometimes tell lies, but women never do. This, my friends, is ideology.

Why does the press take this realistic view regarding accusations against teachers, and at the same time such an irrational, negative view with regard to accusations against men?

One reason is that teachers are organised; it is the unions who are conducting this research and kicking up a fuss. Men in private life can be picked off one by one.

Another reason is good old-fashioned sexism. You know, that thing that feminists are supposedly against? The vast majority of teachers are women. People are reluctant to think that women ever commit violent or sexual crimes, even though there is plenty of evidence that they do. The assumption, therefore, is that the accusations against them must be false. With men, on the other hand, the assumption is 'no smoke without fire'.

The press operates the same double standards over injustice in the family courts. In cases such as that of Sally Clark, there was a great deal of sympathetic press coverage. When it comes to the appalling treatment of men in the family courts, on the other hand, the assumption is that they must have deserved it.

Note: Why is it the case that the vast majority of teachers are women? Because men have been driven out of the profession by, among other things, fear of false accusations.

A third reason is that government and public alike understand the need for an efficient education system, and the false accusations pandemic is seen, rightly, to be undermining that.

The current developments with regard to teachers sound like a step in the right direction. However, we need to apply these measures across the board. ALL adults facing allegations of child abuse and sexual assault should remain anonymous until convicted. False accusers should not be allowed to remain anonymous once they have been exposed as liars.

The best system would be that both parties be granted anonymity during the case. The trial would be held in open court, but with the same kind of reporting restrictions used to protect the anonymity of minors accused of crimes. The one who loses the case (either the rapist or the false accuser), will have their anonymity removed, and can be named and shamed in the press. The other party will retain the right to anonymity, but can choose to waive it if they wish.

As I said elsewhere, merely failing to secure a conviction does not make you a false accuser. There must be clear evidence that deception has taken place, false representations submitted, along with a motive. This would result in the dismissal of the original rape charge, and the instigation of new charges against the accuser. Only if convicted at this second trial, would the accuser lose anonymity.

This is the only fair procedure that I can think of. If anyone has any issues with it, I'd be interested to hear them.

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