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It’s Guaranteed to Happen (Being Accused of Abuse)

By Mike Hyde, The Webmaster

I personally know very few people that have worked in residential childcare for more than a couple of years that hasn’t had a child make abuse accusations against them. The children believe they can use it to manipulate the situation and possibly get rid of a staff members they are not fond of. However, if you have followed facility policies and do your job in such a way as to not put yourself in compromising situations, the accusations are quickly unsubstantiated and you are cleared to continue caring for children.

I have had it happen once to me. A couple of young ladies felt that we were way to strict and had to go, so they wrote a letter to our administrator that basically said - my wife cussed them out and that I slammed them into the wall. We discovered the letter before they had turned it in and immediately notified the administrator. I personally handed him the letter and asked him to interview the girls. We have a reputation as being sticklers for following policy and rules. We also work very hard to avoid situations, that would put us in compromising situations. When they were interviewed one of the girls quickly admitted that it was a plot to get rid of us, and they were the ones that ended up in a different living situation.

I have known other staff that have not been able to clear themselves so quickly. I knew a male houseparent that was having a confrontation with a female resident at a facility I worked at. At some point in the confrontation she took off and ran upstairs to the girl’s living area. He made the mistake of following her upstairs without having a female staff member with him, and before he got up the stairs she was able to get to her room and remove her top. He stormed in the room, and she started screaming. Needless to say, it was much harder for him to clear his name, and this incident eventually led to him leaving childcare.

Another staff member that I knew, didn’t work real closely with the administration. He didn’t seek their counsel on most situations in the house and wasn’t real open with them about what he was doing in the house. He had a similar situation to mine, but because he was not as open with administration and they didn’t know what was happening in his house, it was not as easy to clear him and he ended up going through a very tough week.

There are several things you can do to protect yourself from false accusations:

  • Follow facility rules and policies. It is much easier to clear yourself if you have a reputation for following rules.
  • If you facility trains you in crisis prevention and intervention - use your training. Dealing with confrontations with techniques not taught or authorized will get you in tons of trouble.
  • Avoid situations where you are alone with the opposite sex. This is especially true for male staff members and female residents, a female resident is much more likely to make a sexual accusation against a male staff member.
  • Be open and honest with administration. Let them know what is going on in your house, consult with them on situations and incidents in your house and invite them to spend time with you observing. Privacy is not a luxury in this field.
  • Finally, use common sense and follow your gut. If you have a child that you think is capable of making an accusation against you, keep your hands off. Have other staff members present when confronting them with consequences and document everything.

If you are going to work in this field realize that an accusation will likely be made against you at some time during your career regardless of what steps you take to try and prevent it. Having your ducks in a row to prove it false is your best defense. If this is something you can’t handle or accept you should probably find another line of work.

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