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Balance needed, says NZPF

Balance needed, says NZPF

- New Zealand Principals’ Federation -

The New Zealand Principals’ Federation is calling for discussion on the difficulties faced by male teachers and principals, in light of a recent court trial.

On Friday, a judge threw out sex charges against a Wellington primary teacher, saying he had found it "implausible, then unlikely and then impossible" that the offences had been committed. Judge Bruce Davidson discharged the jury and granted permanent name suppression for the teacher and the school he had taught at in 1996, when the offences were alleged to have occurred.

“It is a difficult time for males in the New Zealand teaching profession,” says NZPF President Pat Newman. “There are some in society who are prepared to believe the worst scenarios, plausible or not, when men are involved in caring professions such as teaching or nursing. ”

“This trial has come at a time when we need male teachers more than ever. This is the second trial against a male teacher in less than a year, and in both cases the cases were thrown out of court. People need to know such accusations have a major impact on the teachers’ career, and indeed their lives.”

In his ruling, Judge Davidson said any guilty verdict would be a miscarriage of justice and no conviction could have been regarded as safe. The opportunity for the teacher to have committed the offences was so limited as to make it impossible.

Newman is disappointed the case went to court at all. “Without wanting to criticise the police, one has to wonder why the decision was made to go to trial, in light of the evidence. One has to wonder if the police would have prosecuted these two men, if they had not been males working with children? Teaching is a great job and normally highly rewarding, but many prospective male teachers will have seen this trial, and will now be looking twice at their career choice. For the teacher involved, you just cannot understand the damage and hardship this accusation will have caused him.”

“It is a sad example of what can happen in our social system today. This trial will have ongoing ramifications for the complainant, the teacher, the school and untold numbers of family and friends. Unfortunately, it will also impact on every other male teacher, both current and prospective. Our teachers, especially our male teachers, deserve just as much protection as our students. I’m not sure we’ve quite got that balance right.”


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