You've probably read about it or seen it on television - teachers and educational support professionals are accused of inappropriate relationships with students.
Sadly, in some cases, the allegations are true, but in far too many cases, they're not. By the time an investigation is completed and a school employee is cleared of wrongdoing, his or her reputation has been damaged.
Take the steps necessary to protect your good name, your reputation, and your career. If you are accused of wrongdoing, the local association and your UniServ representative are always ready to offer you legal advice and assistance.
Take these prevenatative measures to avoid false accusations:
- Maintain your personal space. Young children are eager to show their affection and want to touch you, stroke your hair, or just hang on you for attention. Older students may interpret your behavior or actions as an invitation to a romantic relationship. You can't let students invade your space. Set the tone that you will respect the students' space also.
- Watch what you say. Choose your words carefully. An innocent remark or comment can become a suggestive "come on" when students report the incident to parents. The whole context of what you said may become so distorted that you're now in a battle to save your career and reputation.
- Don't discuss sexually explicit topics. Don't be drawn into conversations regarding such topics, song lyrics, jokes, or movies. Unless it's a part of the school-adopted curriculum, stop those conversations in your presence.
- Don't be alone with students. Avoid being alone with a student. Make sure your can be seen by another adult. After school detention, keeping a student in from recess, make-up tests, and tutoring should be scheduled so that there are other adults in view. They can serve as corroborating witnesses should a student falsely accuse you of improper behavior.
- Don't become "friends" with your students You are the professional. When students blur this line, they can become too comfortable with you and make assumptions about their relationship with you.
- Don't socialize with students. Being seen in public with a student is inappropriate, and can lead to people assuming the worst.
- Don't ever think being falsely accused can't happen to you. It can.