I recently read an article you co-authored in Dimensions of Early Childhood entitled Reducing Aggression with Touch. I thought it was a great article. You even referenced positive touch with young children as including back and should rubs. I wanted to share a horror story of mine with you regarding student touch and allegations against male teachers.
I was an interim male teacher in a [Note: School district and state deleted to provide confidentiality] in 2004 and part of 2005. I mainly taught in elementary classrooms working primarily with grades K-3, but would instruct higher grades as needed. I was a very well respected educator and the faculty and administrators like me and were pleased to have a male teacher working with young children.
The horror starts when a first grade child was having a casual conversation with his mother and alleged that I rubbed his back during class. The mother contacted the school and the school district subsequently advised the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The child never alleged he was upset by the alleged touching. Initially, DCFS said the allegation was unfounded. They said even if it were true such would not constitute any type of abuse or neglect of a child. However, the press and media eventually got a hold of the issue and ran with it, printing various news stories that tried to put a spin on the entire matter. After the media spree, DCFS became aware of additional allegations from elementary school children. The only allegation was that they were touched or rubbed on the back; there was never any mention of touching any private parts of the body.
DCFS, subsequent to receiving the additional reports, contacted me and requested an interview. I fully cooperated with them in March and April of 2005. Shortly after the investigation, they advised me that all the reports were unfounded and that no credible evidence of any abuse or neglect could be found. The Supervisor wrote that even if all the allegations were true, such does not constitute any form of abuse, physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional. I did save all these documents. The reports were even forwarded to the local Children’s Advocacy Center during the investigation, and they, likewise, said they would not investigate any of the reprots since they didn’t feel it fell under sexual or physical abuse (which is there specialty).
However, about six months later in October of 2005, the local State’s Attorney decided to file misdemenaor battery and misdemeanor sexual abuse charges for the same matters DCFS had already determined to be unfounded!! Per each of the 13 children, he charged one count batter and one count sexual abuse.
Today, two years later, my family and I are still going through hell. We have not been able to get to trial or even get our attorney to stand up for us. He has not even told the Court that the reports were unfounded to this day!! When this first started, I was confident things would work out. They certainly seemed they would. Now, the odds are about 50/50 I think. Yet, neither the facts nor allegations have changed over time. All that’s alleged is elementary school children getting rubbed on the back. Nothing More! Almost all the children said they were not bothered or offended by the alleged touching.
I don’t know if this nightmare will ever end. I hope I have not taken up all your time, but if you know of any person or organization that may be able to help me (at all), please let me know.