Stories of schoolteachers facing molestation charges against their students have hit headlines across the nation in recent years, with many of these cases taking place here in California.
In response to these reports, parents have become concerned about their children’s safety and have begun speaking to their children about appropriate interactions with their teachers. While this is good, it could lead to confusion in a frightened child’s mind about what constitutes an inappropriate contact.
Though some of the teachers faced with molestation charges have been found innocent, their reputations have been sullied, and their names and mug shots still appear on websites listing teachers who were accused of molestation. The accusation of wrongdoing was enough to create a perception of guilt that will follow them for the rest of their lives.
As a schoolteacher, you must protect yourself from accusations, and also be able to prove your innocence if you are accused of molesting a student. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
1. Do not communicate with students using social media or personal email.
Don’t friend or follow students on social media websites. Any email communications should take place on a public website or message board such as Blackboard, which is provided by the school for official communications. Have privacy settings for social websites and do not allow students to have access to your personal information.
2. Do not communicate with students using your personal phone.
Keep your personal phone number private and do not accept calls or texts from students. If a student attempts to call or text your private phone, document the incident and report it to the school principal. Communications with students should only be about official school business and should take place in an official school venue.
3. Avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Even if your phone number and social media accounts have privacy settings, you should never communicate with someone electronically if you don’t want that information to become public knowledge. This includes social media posts, texts, pictures, and any information about your personal life that might appear inappropriate to an outsider.
4. Do not have physical contact with students.
The days where teachers can give a student a friendly hug or a pat on the back are over. You must avoid any physical contact whatsoever with students. You can show encouragement and teacherly affection safely and appropriately through verbal communication.
5. Any after school activities should have two teachers present.
You should have another teacher present at all times during after school activities. If the school asks you to monitor students in an after school activity, you can insist that another teacher be present to help. Avoid meeting with a student one on one, regardless if it’s during school or after school, and always keep doors open when talking to students after class.
6. Document and report any threats made by a student.
If a student threatens you, document the incident and report it to the school principal and district officials. Keep a record of the threat in your file for years because it is now the law that a former student can accuse you of molestation years after the alleged incident.
Call the Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you are facing child molestation charges or any sex crime against a child, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich our skilled attorneys have been helping clients facing these charges for over 30 years. We know that facing criminal charges can affect you for the rest of your life.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.