A South Australian male teacher has warned all young men to stay clear of a teaching career due to unsubstantiated or doubtful claims that might be made against them by female students.
In his case, he was stood down from his job in 2014, and was not made aware of basic details of the accusation for six months until he was interviewed by police. Two years later - he was not charged in any way or form - and was sent a letter early this year ordering him back to work.
There was an allegation he touched a student inappropriately. He was 60 years of age, he endured two years of investigation by the South Australian Education Department, he felt isolated and mentally scarred and then received a letter to return to work, he is on sick leave and taking long service leave.
Education Departments around Australia are in a free fall of disastrous outcomes for teachers caught up in false allegations – procedures must be followed – police must be involved – long insidious investigations must be undertaken – everyone is under the pump – and no one is happy.
One possible solution
Many a re-examination of DNA has resulted in those falsely imprisoned for many years, especially in the USA has seen enormous payouts by the State. I recall some years ago the women who claimed sexual harassment over the David Jones CEO claimed $35 million although the secret payout it was claimed at the time was much less.
There are law firms today who will go into bat for you and only charge if you win – they don't take on loser cases. Male teachers should have on fast dial such law firms and claim for every cent they can, against the school, education department and the State along with those young females who make unsubstantiated claims and their parents.
Only one such humongous financial win would make create urgent changes in the law from the Parliament as to initial verifications of claims fast tracked. It is so easy for young female students. An accidental brush, a misunderstood comment, a feeling of rejection. Then bang! Get 'm. It can be so very easy.
Another possible solution
One solution is accompanying every male teacher with a woman assistant. In the class room, in the play ground, to and from the car park, on the sporting field. This is a valid expression of protection for the State and the male teacher. It might prove to be a mammoth saving to the State's coffers.
Wise male ministers have been doing this for years. Never a door closed when counselling a female. Wives travelling with their husband ministers as my wife has done since the children left school, now 12 years. Before that my children accompanied me or a fellow colleague – never out of sight.
In my ministry editing young writers in the Christian Today program I have travelled widely and there have often been "old-dad-hugs" with the young women writers but Delma my wife of 39 years has been right there with me. Moreover, to others I would not hug them at all to ensure ultimate clarity of position. Many male ministers follow this same wisdom.
Male teachers are today, right now, dangerously vulnerable to false claims. A male teacher who does not have a woman assistant with him in school hours may be wishing he had.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html