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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 September, 2003, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Teacher abuse anonymity call
A teachers' union says it has evidence that many of its members face groundless allegations that they have abused their pupils.

Figures from the NASUWT show that in the past five years, 634 members of the union have been accused of sexual or physical abuse.

But only 11 of these were convicted of any offence.

Union officials believe teachers accused of wrongdoing should be given anonymity while their cases are investigated.

The figures also show that in the last ten years the number of accusations made against teachers has quadrupled.

Claims can be made and there is no need for there to be a witness
Claire Curtis-Thomas MP

The union says even though the vast majority of teachers are acquitted they face immediate suspension and months of investigation once an allegation has been made.

Teachers names are made public and they often become the subject of abuse themselves.

Many do not return to the profession and some have even committed suicide.

Union bosses say false accusations are now so commonplace that the government should consider changing the law to allow teachers anonymity whilst they are being investigated.

The NASUWT represents more than 210,000 teachers nationwide.

On Friday, teachers were warned not to work alone with some children - because of fears that false abuse claims could be made against them in years to come.

MP Claire Curtis-Thomas, who leads a cross-party parliamentary group on abuse investigations, said: "People working with vulnerable young people are very open to false allegations later in life."

"Claims can be made and there is no need for there to be a witness."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Chris Keates, NASUWT
"Teachers' lives and livelihoods can be protected"



SEE ALSO:
Teachers told 'don't work alone'
19 Sep 03  |  Education
Rise in abuse claims against teachers
31 Jul 03  |  Education


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