Skip to main content

False Accusations; Safeguarding young people and staff


Does the system protect the vunrable?

This is a big issue and working in the school enviroment and youth club enviroment has made me very aware of possible situations. Especially as my job is to talk about sex and relationships. This can be a very sensitive subject and needs to be responded to as such A good policy is essential.

When I read this BBC article I was alternatively annoyed, worried, relieved and concerned. Most of all it highlighted the importance of a robust useable safeguarding policy.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-16927479#story_continues_2

Most accusations against teachers in Wales are dropped

I was annoyed that teachers are getting their careers ruined by false accusation. Rex Phillips, from NASUWT is quoted in the BBC article as saying.

"It's every teacher's worst nightmare to have a false allegation made against them. Their reputation is damaged and they often find it hard to go back to work, even though they've been completely exonerated.

"We just want teachers to be treated fairly. Once an allegation is made, a teacher is often suspended immediately without even a bit of consideration given to if it can be true or not.

"There's no 'innocent until proven guilty'."

The final sentance hits home for me. My personal sense of justice struggles with the Child Protection norm of "Guilty untill proven innocent". It just doesn't feel right. Yet another way to phrase this is "dangerous untill proven safe". This phrase neatly sums up the rationale behind CRB checks. Treat people as a possible threat untill you know they are safe. I imagine we would have no trouble advising young people to treat a strange dog like this or from working as a first aid instructor I can tell you we teach people to have this suspicious attitude to situation. So maybe this mind sense makes sense but it still feels odd when applied with legal situations. It may be a sad necessary evil of keeping the vulnerable safe.

I was worried by this article because it did awake that personal fear. "What if I had a false alligation made about me?" I think this is a perfectly normal reaction that many teachers and youth workers face. Not only is this fear about what will people think of me but also I love my job and it would be horrible to loose all that on a false accusation.

But I was relieved that this article shows that false malicious accusation are identified. Key to this process must be the school or youth group having a good policy in place. Having accountability and having written records is a primary defence and Why at youth clubs and in schools we always have two staff in each room. I or my staff should never be in a room alone with a young person. Firstly to make sure the young people are safe but also to keep everything witnessed. This reduces any chance of false accusations. I suspect that for some cases of false accusations Safeguarding standards might have slipped. This created the opportunity for the false claim.

In my experience the best way to first respond to a young person making any complaint or expressing a concern is treat them seriously. If it is a real worry they are gratefull it is being treated seriously. If it was a sort of half hearted joke/wind up they back down seeing I am taking it serious. This method has served me well in a number of incidents. Yet it is not a defence against a malicious false claim. These claims are dealt with by maintaining high standards in safeguarding and keeping good records.

Finally, like Keith Towler the Children's Commissioner for Wales, I am concerned stories like this might make it harder for young people to raise concerns. Keith says

"We must not do anything that might undermine the child's right to be heard or deter children with genuine complaints from coming forward."

I especially resonate with the idea of not detering young people from raising concerns. Thousands of young people stay silent about abuse they are suffering. We must not let anything increase this number.

Overall I fell that whilst it is bad/sad that false accusations can happen, it is better then any system which makes it harder for young people to report a crime.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Agree - Disagree Sex and Relationship Statements

Today I shared another resource listing the agree disagree statement I often use in Relationship lessons. I find agree disagree activities as a bit of a two edge sword. Sometimes they are great and sometimes they just seem flat. 


I think agree/disagree activities work well if young people in the group do not all think the same. The true value in agree/disagree activities is the discussion it can stir up. The discussion is the point where young people learn things and develop their attitudes. The statements need to be crafted to try and divide opinion and stir up this discussion. When the statements do not divide group opinion then rarely will I get a good follow up discussion. The problem is that the statements that work well for one group do not work for another group. 

The temptation is to try and pick truly controversial issues but I have had as much success with the historically controversial issues (abortion, porn etc) as the more standard issues (loyalty, respect, condoms, etc). T…

Playing with figures of sexual health

A single research project can be reported on in different ways depending on what you want to do. Take the following two articles both reporting on the same research by the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. The research shows how many girls in the study thought the HPV vaccine also reduced their risk of catching other STIs.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2083260/One-teenage-girls-thinks-HPV-vaccine-cuts-risk-contracting-STDs.html
http://www.healthnews.com/en/news/Some-Girls-Overestimate-HPV-Vaccine-Protection/3hFUdOev1E8wSjg313QPZq/ 

The daily mail report emphasis 1 in 4, I believe this is because they are trying to show how it is a big problem. Where as Health News states "show that a small percentage of girls" I believe this is because they are trying to show it is not a big problem. Both quoting the same study with the same figure of 23.6% of girls having the HPV vaccine believing it will reduce their risk of catching other STIs. 

Now this is a common o…

The need to talk about porn and release all the data

Today childline launched anew campaign (FAPZ)to help young people make sense of the powerful influence online porn can have on young people. I welcome any new or renewed effort to help tackle this issue. What ever adults personally think about adults consuming porn, it clearly is not meant for young people. Below is a tweet from Simon Blake (CEO of Brook) Agree @NSPCC we must talk about porn at home, school & community. Whatever you think about porn it is not place CYP should learn about sex
— Simon Blake (@Simonablake) March 31, 2015 It is very worrying to hear Childlinereporting high numbers of calls to their phone line where online porn is a key issue. And this will just be a tip of the iceberg of the influence porn is having. When I talk about Childline in high schools I have meet many young people who think its not for them because they aren't a child so they wont ring it. Such a shame. 

However, the NSPCC could strengthen their campaign by releasing the full details of the…