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Duty of Care vs Alleged Betrayal

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by chrisa86, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. chrisa86

    chrisa86 New commenter

    I am a teacher working at the school where my girlfriend's little sister (14) attends.

    Recently there have been issues with the sister who has had sex with a 17 year old (he was her boyfriend believe it or not!)

    Now my girlfriend told me this information and I was really unsure whether I needed to pass it on to the AHT in charge of pastoral stuff. I really debated about whether to mention this to the school - the parents knew, but still did I have a legal obligation to say? I didn't want to be classed as unprofessional for withholding serious information about a pupil.

    Obviously I wouldn't have even hesitated if it was an average pupil in the school, it was because I knew her personally and knew the parents were already aware (obviously they didn't condone what she had done though.)

    Long story short the parents are FURIOUS and I'm not really certain why, the school weren't taking it further, but apparently I have "betrayed family secrets". Surely it was my duty to pass this information on? Or am I in the wrong?
  2. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Was the sister having sex with the 17 year old at school? If not, I'm not clear on the legal/professional requirement to bring it to the school's attention. What were they going to do with/about the information that the girl is sexually active? Maybe I'm missing something.
    If so, I'm sure others will point it out. [​IMG]
  3. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Was the sister having sex with the 17 year old at school? If not, I'm not clear on the legal/professional requirement to bring it to the school's attention. What were they going to do with/about the information that the girl is sexually active? Maybe I'm missing something.
    If so, I'm sure others will point it out. [​IMG]
  4. I don't see what this had to do with the school since her parents already knew and you haven't mentioned that he was a pupil at the school. I don't think you needed to get involved. It is a family matter. Parents, not a school, would decide whether to take this matter to the police. I can see why they are rather cross, to be honest.
  5. chrisa86

    chrisa86 New commenter

    Well fair enough then, apparently I am in the wrong... At the end of the day what if the school already were aware of extra things and this was a missing piece of the puzzle?

    I ran this past my own Head of Year (without pupil name) and she said that if it were her she would make sure to pass it on... Clearly though I'm too naive and want to do what's right.

    Perhaps I should have just shrugged my shoulders and helped sweep it under the carpet too.
  6. But it's not sweeping it under the carpet! The girl's family knows! Who else do you want to know about this? Because it is not a social services matter, and it is not a police matter unless the family decide to report it. There is a reason that the school have not done anything, and that is because the family know and it is not something that has happened on school premises. Had the father been abusing the girl - now that would be an entirely different matter. But as it stands, it is the family's call as to what they do about the under age sex. They are annoyed because you have made public something which they feel concerned only them. You meant to do the right thing, but you also asked for people to comment on whether they agreed with what you did, and on this occasion, no, I don't.
  7. chrisa86

    chrisa86 New commenter

    No, and trust me I do see that view point but I hardly feel like I should be vilified. I mean trust me, it's not a bother to me if they don't speak to me (does in fact make my life easier).

    But I certainly don't feel that I'm in the wrong for passing it on. Yes I know the school would not take matters further, I made it very clear to them that the parents knew for that reason. However I did this mainly to protect myself.

    The irony is that with her parents having told the pupil, if she ends up causing trouble in school then issues that arise would have to be dealt with.

    I do have to admit I am a bit surprised that passing on the information was the wrong thing to do. Guess I am still young, naive and prone to making mistakes. (Long story short though none of this really bothers me, her family going ballistic at my girlfriend does though!)
  8. You did absolutely right chris and I'm staggered that previous posters think that it is nothing to do with the school if a teacher finds out a 14 year old girl is involved in risky behaviour and engaging in illegal sexual acts outside school. Of course the school should know, it's a child protection issue. What they should do about it is altogether a trickier question, but you shouldn't feel that you had to make that decision. Advise senior management what you know and leave it with them. You don't deserve to be villified by the previous two posters. It's utterly irrelevant that the girl's parents knew. Everyone involved with child protecion knows that sadly sometimes parents have colluded with the most apalling abuses of their own children (this is NOT a description of this case, just to illustrate the general point that the parents' knowledge is not in itself a reason to do nothing). I wonder why the parents are so enraged? Couldn't be because they know the situation is wrong and are frightened social servcies will find out, could it?
  9. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I don't see that you have been vilified, just disagreed with. Which is always hard to take, but hey it happens!

    I can totally understand why the parents would be furious with you, but that was surely a risk you knew you were taking when you reported it? They were never going to be thrilled were they?

    The 14 year old is probably doing no more than a great many other 14 year olds (not saying it is right at all, but isn't all that unusual) and so probably feels rather hard done by having to have embarrassing conversations with staff at school. It is easier for her, and her parents, to blame you rather than look at their own part in what has happened. It will blow over and they will get over it. Until then just stay out of their way a bit and make amends where you can.

    You really need to have a long talk with your gf about what to do in the future. This sort of situation will arise again and some things are best dealt with by families. It might be easier for you and your gf to just not know, rather than have to make these sort of decisions. Even if there are things she knows but chooses not to tell you, it might be better.

    Do you teach your gf's sister? Can you have a chat with her, at school as a teacher, and apologise for the hassle you have caused, but explain you did it for the right reasons out of concern? She is a teenager, she won't thank you for it, but might, in private, get over it faster than her parents.
  10. No, you shouldn't be vilified, of course not. It's clear that you were doing what you thought was best. I once had a very angry father contact me when i passed on a child protection issue based on something another child had told me, but I had to do it as it was an allegation about something the father had allegedly done to his son. YOur case is a bit different as it's not the parents breaking any laws, but the boyfirend, and that's whay it is for the parents to decide if they want to take it further, not the school. I think it's one of those issues where it could have gone either way - the parents could have understood that you thought that the school should have known of her home circumstances. What does your GF think about this? Does she support what you did?
  11. Sorry for all the typos!
  12. A bit over the top. To villify means to hurl abuse at and to slander someone. When did anyone do this? I don't recall telling the guy he was a worthless, interfering, despicable *** - nor do I think he is - I merely had an opinion on whether it was a good idea to tell the school. Please show me where I 'villify' him?
  13. Sp: I meant vilify
  14. It was chris that said he felt vilified, not me. I said he shouldn't feel vilified because he'd done the right thing.
  15. You missed out a word in your previous post, then.
  16. Raphella

    Raphella New commenter

    Oh for heavens sake, don't people split tiny hairs on here? Get a life! This is the fourth post I have read today, where people are genuinely asking for help and end up getting cross examined by people trying to be clever! I for one am deleting my account. What a waste of useful energy and time!
    I am sure the response to this will be clever and acerbic and incredibly astute lol what a pity i shant be around to read it!
  17. How did the parents find out you told the school? This is the bit that I would be worried about. There are loads of ways that the school could find out - overheard conversation in class etc. Personally I would phone the union in this case, not the head of year.
  18. reg1950

    reg1950 New commenter

    What a ridiculous attitude some poster here seem to have, pointlessly arguing about the word 'villify'. Look, chris said "No, and trust me I do see that view point but I hardly feel like I should be vilified" and rosa replied "You don't deserve to be villified by the previous two posters". What is the point of this stupid digression into the meaning of the word villify. Do grow up and if you can't say anything sensible that will help chris and others who might find themselves in his position then don't post anything. Chris, I agree with rosa, you did the right thing.
  19. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Well, first of all, I think Chris meant villified by the family and the other poster got it all cocked up. If you think that those relatively polite and civil interactions were immature or inappropriate then you obviously don't get out much (around TES in any case).
    Back to the issue. I stated my opinion, based on the fact that there was no reason I could see to report the girl's sexual activity to the school. Others have disagreed but I haven't yet heard a good reason for that. So, if any teacher hears about a student being sexually active, they have a duty to report this officially to school authorities? If so, why, and how often is this actualy done?
    Oh and ref1950, other then spending 90% of your post chastizing the rest of us, what did your post add to the discussion? Or is that not a grown up question? [​IMG]
  20. Ravena

    Ravena New commenter

    This is an interesting issue. We are told as teachers that if we feel a child is at harm/risk of harm, then we should report it. This is exactly what the OP did. Underage sex is illegal because the law says that those under 16 are not mature enough to be in a sexual relationship.
    However, I see the other posters' viewpoints - underage sex is common, and should the school intervene? I had a similar issue once - my 14 year-old student came into class showing her friends her contraceptive implant, and boasting about her sex life with her 18 year-old boyfriend. She assured me parents were 'fine with it'.
    I promptly notified her head of house, thinking I had a duty of disclosure, and was told that "lots of underage girls use contraception - maybe brush up on your knowledge of this" !! I replied that I was trying to report he underage sexual activity, not the contraception, but nobody felt it was a concern.
    So Chris - yes, I think you did the right thing, but maybe this is a grey area for schools?


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