Mr. Lawrence always has horror stories from the classroom, but this one may be most horrifyingest of all.
As a male who works in early childhood (a rare breed), the possibility of "crazy accusations" must always be lurking somewhere in my mind. It doesn't help that so many child molesters seem to be elementary teachers and Boy Scout leaders and swim coaches and so forth. For the love of all that's holy, why don't these sick fucks just get jobs that keep them away from children, and then crawl off somewhere to die?
Teaching, no matter what the age of the students, really does seem to be a calling. I doubt anyone who knew me in high school would have guessed then that I'd turn out be, of all things, a pre-K teacher --- I was gruff, wild and even violent at times. But you know, I sort of fell into it, and I never looked back. It's like the little kids came to me, not the other way around. And yes, they love me, and I'm good at what I do, and for all the grief I get, I love my job. If it paid better (and had a retirement plan), I'd do it proudly for the rest of my life.
But that's not something that very many people understand. I've written about one recent "could have been" accusation here. I've had other very minor confrontations before. For instance.
Once, when I worked for Volunteers of America (a program working with very low-SES kids of mothers often on a methadone treatment for drug addiction), K, a precocious and very disturbed four-year-old, started punching his thigh while I was giving him a reprimand for an unrelated matter. I put my palm between his fist and leg, told him not to hit himself, finished giving him the talking-to, and forgot about it.
Later that day, I was called into the big boss' office. She said that K had told his mother (herself a seriously disturbed individual, who had abused her daughter) that I'd punched him repeatedly in the leg, and the mother had gone to the boss about it. I was just naive enough back then to be appalled, and with eyes wide, quickly protested my innocence and asserting that indeed I'd stopped the kid from doing the punching.
The boss, bless her heart, just smiled and dismissed my fears, noting there were no marks on K, and anyway that K's mother was not to be trusted. Thank God that then I, like Mr. Lawrence, had the benefit of an understanding and supportive administration.
It won't always be that way, I know. And some crimes don't leave marks. It would only take one child and one determined parent falsely accusing any elementary teacher of sexual abuse to ruin that teacher's career, reputation and life. And I've read enough news accounts of people sent to prison for sexual abuse based on no evidence, only on the word of an accuser, to give me a lot of food for thought about the career path I'm on. No, I certainly do not trust this country's appallingly backward justice system with my life.
Don't get me wrong; a lot of accused sexual predators are guilty as sin. And if there's evidence, I say castrate them and then kill them. But I'm not fool enough to think that everyone in prison deserves to be there.
I'm alone with my kids a lot. Granted, my classroom's hallway-facing wall and door are only about four feet high, so everything is visible to anyone who happens to wander by, but still. I often wish the place was videotaped, for my own safety.
I don't have any answers or conclusions to this one.