Abuse laws being abused in Forsyth school

by Jim Longworth

A few months ago a number of parents and journalists, acting like angry villagers in a Frankenstein movie, were outraged because Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School administrators and county law enforcement officials did not act quickly enough in suspending a Lewisville Elementary science teacher for alleged misconduct. Details of the charges were never released to the public. But now, following an exhaustive police investigation, the teacher has been reinstated and cleared of any wrongdoing. Suddenly, parents and their children are now telling the media what a good teacher he was and how happy they are to have him back at school. The support comes too late because the teacher has, no doubt, been permanently scarred by the rush to judgment and subsequent trial by media. He is not alone.

Two years ago, a Roanoke, Va. teacher was falsely accused of sexual abuse and, though innocent, was so distraught that he committed suicide. All across America and Great Britain incidents of false accusations against teachers are on the rise, so much so that support groups have been formed on both continents to help vilified educators cope with their trauma and defend themselves in court.

The growing problem is part of a much larger trend toward falsely accusing men in general of sexually abusing their children or students.

In his book Elusive Innocence, Dean Tong presents exhaustive evidence of a new syndrome known as “Sexual Allegation In Divorce,” whereby female spouses fabricate abuse charges in order to gain custody or a more favorable settlement. Tong suggests that as many as 71 percent of all accusations against fathers and teachers are false, a number that pales in comparison to statistics reported in England, where less than 100 male teachers have been convicted out of the nearly 2,000 who were falsely prosecuted.

No doubt sexual predators exist and, if guilty, should be prosecuted and locked away for life.

But parents need to be absolutely certain that an abuse has occurred before attacking school administrators or revealing their suspicions to the media. To do otherwise only serves to incite a public lynching of the accused person’s reputation, while wasting precious police resources which could have been better spent to investigate real sexual predators.

And while the damage to innocent men is bad enough, perhaps the most tragic result of these premature witch hunts is that, in the future, teachers may refuse to engage in any personal interaction with students for fear of being accused of inappropriate behavior. That would be sad indeed because teachers can be good tutors and good listeners, especially for slow learners and troubled youth. In fact, oftentimes teachers are the only people children can turn to when actual abuses have occurred in the home. Now, thanks to so many abuses of our anti-abuse laws, those young victims may have to suffer alone.

Jim Longworth is host of “Triad Today” which can be seen Friday mornings at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 (cable channel 7), and Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on MY48 (cable channel 15).