One of the findings of our national study showed that one of the three major reasons why men do not enter or remain as teachers is because of fear of accusation of abuse. We receive e-mails every year from men falsely accused and then ultimately acquitted for the accusation.
The fact remains that parents and people close to the child at home are the most likely to harm children. Here is what the child welfare child abuse fact sheet offers us:
Who Are the Perpetrators?
No matter how the fatal abuse occurs, one fact of great concern is that the perpetrators are, by definition, individuals responsible for the care and supervision of their victims. In 2004, one or both parents were involved in 78.9 percent of child abuse or neglect fatalities. Of the other 21.1 percent of fatalities, 10.7 percent were the result of maltreatment by nonparent caretakers, and 10.4 percent represent unknown or missing information.
There is no single profile of a perpetrator of fatal child abuse, although certain characteristics reappear in many studies. Frequently, the perpetrator is a young adult in his or her mid-20s, without a high school diploma, living at or below the poverty level, depressed, and who may have difficulty coping with stressful situations. In many instances, the perpetrator has experienced violence first-hand. Most fatalities from physical abuse are caused by fathers and other male caretakers. Mothers are most often responsible for deaths resulting from child neglect.
No child deserves to be harmed. And all children need to be protected. But the disproportionate concern about male teachers abusing children is misplaced and contributes to keeping men out of teaching and remaining in the classroom.
Better supervision, good hiring practices and open door policies for the classroom are the more effective then creating an environment of suspicion.