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Children unlikely to lie about being sexually abused, investigator tells teachers



By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun December 5, 2010 Comments (1)


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Children’s reports of sexual abuse need to be taken seriously because they are rarely false, a private investigator told educators at a B.C. College of Teachers (BCCT) conference recently.


“The issue of false accusations [from kids] really isn’t an issue,” said Scot Filer, a former RCMP psychological profiler and founder of the Lions Gate Investigations Group. “From my experience, false accusations are uncommon.”


Children who have been abused are often humiliated, guilt-ridden and afraid to talk about what happened, he said during a presentation at the Vancouver conference intended to help educators recognize the actions of predators.


Joe Jamieson, deputy registrar of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT), agreed that few children make false claims about sex offences, although he said it does happen. Generally, though, kids are not keen to make such allegations, especially against someone who is trusted and respected, such as a teacher, he added.


Both he and an investigator with the BCCT said too many teachers are reluctant to act when they have suspicions or hear sex-abuse allegations about colleagues.


Asked later why they didn’t do something, many will say they didn’t think it was their business or they didn’t want to rock the boat, said Jamieson, formerly the OCT’s investigations director. Yet “people know in their gut when a teacher is crossing the line.”


Natasha Dookie, the BCCT’s director of professional conduct, said it is rare for teachers to contact the college to report the likelihood of a sex offence by a colleague. In fact, she said that during her two years with the BCCT, she couldn’t remember a single instance, although there have been reports from teaching assistants, school janitors and parents.


Dookie said teachers, when questioned during sex-abuse investigations, will often say they had suspicions or concerns about the accused, or that a student had made a remark. “But those remarks or suspicions never triggered any further action on the part of those teachers.


“There are also incidents where teachers are actually told by students that something happened. In those circumstances, there is a duty to report to the college” she said in an interview. “That obviously is a great concern to the college, to the profession [and] to parents.”


A member of the audience suggested teachers aren’t reporting to the college because protocol dictates that they take such suspicions to the school principal or the police instead.


But Dookie noted that B.C. law requires educators to report to the BCCT whenever they have reason to believe that a colleague has sexually abused or exploited a student or caused a child physical harm or significant emotional harm.


Jamieson said teachers are no different from other professionals in their reluctance to make accusations about colleagues.

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun



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