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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 12:04 GMT
Falsely accused teachers offered help
Careers can be destroyed by false abuse allegations
Psychological support is to be offered to teachers who have been falsely accused of child abuse.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and the Teacher Support Network are to offer counselling services for teachers traumatised by the experience of malicious allegations of abuse.

Nigel de Gruchy
Nigel de Gruchy wants to help innocent teachers whose names have been "dragged through the mud"

In the past decade, there have been 1,200 accusations against members of the teachers' union - with a "vast majority" not being substantiated.

But the union says that lengthy investigations into allegations and the suspension from school can leave innocent teachers feeling crushed and humiliated from the experience.

Teachers cleared of claims could still experience suicidal feelings, nervous breakdowns, break-ups of relationships and could see their careers ended, says the union.

'Dragged through the mud'

The counselling service, available from next month, will provide 10 sessions with a psychologist.

The union's general secretary, Nigel de Gruchy, says that this will help teachers who have had their "name dragged through the mud".

The counselling will attempt to tackle wrongly-accused teachers' "feelings of anger, anxiety and isolation", he said.

The union has argued that teachers, until convicted, should be allowed to remain anonymous.

False claims have meant that "professional and personal lives have been ruined - with some committing suicide".

"We rightly treat the safety and welfare of children as sacrosanct and all allegations must be investigated thoroughly.

"But with a high level of claims never making it to court, teachers also need to be heard and supported," said Steve Thorpe of the Teacher Support Network.

See also:

24 Nov 00 | Education
Strike threat over 'malicious' pupil
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