Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A difficult topic to discuss

What happens when a child accuses you of something at work?This is a topic that is very difficult to speak about, but something that does happen when working with older children. It has happened to me, and can be really upsetting for those involved. I don't talk about it much as the events really did leave me in the horrible position of wondering where to go with my career. So, I will explain to you briefly what occurred and also how you can protect yourself and how employers should support you.

I was accused by an 8 year old child of harming them when collecting them outside of school for an after school club. The child had come out crying, and all I had done was hug them to cheer them up and find out what had happened. After the weekend, the parents who were rightly concerned, complained to my workplace and then a few days later, took it to the police. I was suspended indefinitely and spent the next 2 weeks afterwards wondering what the hell had just happened to me!! Being interviewed by the police was no laughing matter either, feeling like a criminal when all I had done was tried to cheer up a child.

The case was thrown out. No evidence was found to back up the claims and so I was allowed back to work. And that was the hardest thing of all, working with the child who had nearly lost me my job and changed my whole life. It was a scary time, I felt I couldn't hug any child who wanted one and panicked when I accidentally scratched people. It took a long time to get over it all.

So, what do you do if this ever happens to you and, like me, you were totally innocent?

The main thing is try to remain calm and collected. It is a hard thing to do. I was in absolute tears for days and your mind plays horrible tricks on you as you wonder what will happen next. Your employers should offer you counselling during your time of absence. They do have the right to dismiss you under suspension, for the protection of both the child involved and yourself. It is the whole thing of innocent until proven guilty. You have to remember that there are worried parents involved too who naturally will believe their child, and want justice for them, getting to the bottom of the issue. It can be really hard when they are sitting in front of you, accusing you, but in their situation, you probably would do the same.

You will have to write a statement of what occurred. What makes things a little difficult is when there are no witnesses. There were no adult witnesses, but surely if I had hurt someone, somebody in the playground at the time would have seen something!!! This is why it is important that childcare workers collect children from school, they should do so in pairs. This was changed at the place where I worked to protect the staff if anything like this should happen again.

Being falsely accused can change a persons life. It can knock your confidence and set you back in a big way. It took a while, but I stood tall and brushed it aside as best I could, with the support of my friends and family, and especially my partner who was my rock at that time. I am glad I didn't let that one issue stop me with pursuing my career in childcare, for I am sure I wouldn't be here now if I had. You just have to fight for your innocence and do your job as best as you can.

It has been difficult to write this but I hope this post has been helpful to someone out there, or at least rung true with someone who has been through something similar. Unfortunately, it is one of the downsides of working in this field of expertise, but it shouldn't ever put you off doing what you love best.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing this - so useful to hear from someone that it has happened to. Has made me want to talk to my staff about the things that can happen - particularly going in pairs to the toilet etc. THANKS!

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  2. Thanks Joanne, I dont often talk about the subject as it was a terrible time for me during my career. I just hope it helps others in this situation, or at least make people aware of things that could happen. Thanks for your comment

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