Unsafe for Men to Work With Children in Australia

CommentaryIt’s a tragic irony that just as the world is finally waking up to the damage to children who miss out on masculine influence in their lives, the moral panic over sexual abuse is driving away the very few men still working with them—men who play a particularly vital role for kids in single mum households. In this current climate, with false allegations unchecked, all men working with children are at risk; however they behave. Talk to a few teachers, and you hear the stories. Like the newly graduated teacher working in a school in Port Macquarie who allegedly ran into problems with a female student who refused to finish the assignment he’d set for the class. “If you try to make me, I’ll tell them that you touched me,” the female student allegedly told her teacher. He was lucky. He reported her to the school principal, who suspended her. The teacher’s story was believed because she was a known troublemaker, but it could easily have turned out badly for him instead. Last month, a long ordeal finally ended for an ordinary Australian family. Their son, Lucas, was found not guilty of sexual contact with a child. The female judge who delivered this verdict said she believed Lucas’ version of events—not the accusations that led him to spend seven months in prison, nor the vicious rumours in the local paper describing him as a “pedo” that led to death threats on social media. Lucas’ mother, Debbie Garratt, is a brave woman who has made the considered decision to go public and share with me what happened to her family to warn other parents of the dangers awaiting young men in this hypervigilant anti-male culture. Her story suggests we are reaching the point where it is just too risky for men to take jobs caring for children. It could be risky for men to enter into child caring roles in current society. (NadyaEugene/Shutterstock) Debbie is actually a step-mum to Lucas, but he’d had been part of their large, blended family since he was a small child. He was in his early twenties when he decided on a career in childcare. It was a prospect that made his parents somewhat nervous, but they knew children had always flocked to this easy-going, considerate young man, and he thrived in the job, with families often seeking out his babysitting services after hours. One evening in August 2018, he was babysitting for a family he knew well, having cared for their children many times, including the five-year-old girl he’d looked after since she was a toddler in nappies. During the evening, he noticed the little girl seemed to be “fiddling,” apparently bothered by irritated genitals. When he found her scratching herself half-asleep in bed, he quickly swiped the area with a baby wipe, hoping the moist towelette would ease the irritation. It didn’t occur to him that this could create a problem until the police came and interviewed him at work the next day. It transpired that early that day, the little girl had mentioned to her mother that “Lucas licked me.” The mum went on high alert, told the girl to stop talking, called for her husband, and then questioned the child, recording the conversation on an iPhone. In her verdict, the judge commented that the parents’ reaction contributed to setting in place the whole disastrous sequence of events that followed, which sadly included the girl being interrogated at the police station and taken for internal examinations. When initially questioned by the police, the child denied that Lucas had put his head near her genitals or even that he had touched her, but these negative responses were omitted from the evidence used for the charges and not conveyed to the child’s parents. There are important lessons to be learned from this story. It’s quite something to hear how the legal aid barrister sold out this young man, pressuring him in a corridor outside the courtroom to plead guilty to avoid further distress to the child. He convinced Lucas that he was bound to be convicted, and this was the only way to get a reduced sentence. The situation can become overwhelming for the men and their families involved. (Jesús Rodríguez/Unsplash) Any parent would identify with Debbie’s emotion as she describes the result—Lucas was convicted and simply whisked off to prison. They weren’t even able to find out where the authorities had taken him for 10 days. By that time, his guilty plea was all over the newspapers and social media alive with advice about hanging the “scumbag animal.” We can all imagine the family’s relief when the judge affirmed Lucas’ version of events, stating a number of times that the child must have been mistaken. However, this was not a case of the accused being found not guilty due to insufficient evidence but rather a female judge determining a male was to be believed. And that’s quite something. What’s inspirational is Debbie’s advice to Lucas during the years he spent living at home with his parents, unable to get a job, and nervous about leaving the house. Deb

Unsafe for Men to Work With Children in Australia

Commentary

It’s a tragic irony that just as the world is finally waking up to the damage to children who miss out on masculine influence in their lives, the moral panic over sexual abuse is driving away the very few men still working with them—men who play a particularly vital role for kids in single mum households.

In this current climate, with false allegations unchecked, all men working with children are at risk; however they behave. Talk to a few teachers, and you hear the stories.

Like the newly graduated teacher working in a school in Port Macquarie who allegedly ran into problems with a female student who refused to finish the assignment he’d set for the class.

“If you try to make me, I’ll tell them that you touched me,” the female student allegedly told her teacher. He was lucky. He reported her to the school principal, who suspended her. The teacher’s story was believed because she was a known troublemaker, but it could easily have turned out badly for him instead.

Last month, a long ordeal finally ended for an ordinary Australian family. Their son, Lucas, was found not guilty of sexual contact with a child. The female judge who delivered this verdict said she believed Lucas’ version of events—not the accusations that led him to spend seven months in prison, nor the vicious rumours in the local paper describing him as a “pedo” that led to death threats on social media.

Lucas’ mother, Debbie Garratt, is a brave woman who has made the considered decision to go public and share with me what happened to her family to warn other parents of the dangers awaiting young men in this hypervigilant anti-male culture. Her story suggests we are reaching the point where it is just too risky for men to take jobs caring for children.

Epoch Times Photo
It could be risky for men to enter into child caring roles in current society. (NadyaEugene/Shutterstock)

Debbie is actually a step-mum to Lucas, but he’d had been part of their large, blended family since he was a small child. He was in his early twenties when he decided on a career in childcare. It was a prospect that made his parents somewhat nervous, but they knew children had always flocked to this easy-going, considerate young man, and he thrived in the job, with families often seeking out his babysitting services after hours.

One evening in August 2018, he was babysitting for a family he knew well, having cared for their children many times, including the five-year-old girl he’d looked after since she was a toddler in nappies. During the evening, he noticed the little girl seemed to be “fiddling,” apparently bothered by irritated genitals. When he found her scratching herself half-asleep in bed, he quickly swiped the area with a baby wipe, hoping the moist towelette would ease the irritation.

It didn’t occur to him that this could create a problem until the police came and interviewed him at work the next day. It transpired that early that day, the little girl had mentioned to her mother that “Lucas licked me.” The mum went on high alert, told the girl to stop talking, called for her husband, and then questioned the child, recording the conversation on an iPhone.

In her verdict, the judge commented that the parents’ reaction contributed to setting in place the whole disastrous sequence of events that followed, which sadly included the girl being interrogated at the police station and taken for internal examinations.

When initially questioned by the police, the child denied that Lucas had put his head near her genitals or even that he had touched her, but these negative responses were omitted from the evidence used for the charges and not conveyed to the child’s parents.

There are important lessons to be learned from this story. It’s quite something to hear how the legal aid barrister sold out this young man, pressuring him in a corridor outside the courtroom to plead guilty to avoid further distress to the child. He convinced Lucas that he was bound to be convicted, and this was the only way to get a reduced sentence.

Epoch Times Photo
The situation can become overwhelming for the men and their families involved. (Jesús Rodríguez/Unsplash)

Any parent would identify with Debbie’s emotion as she describes the result—Lucas was convicted and simply whisked off to prison. They weren’t even able to find out where the authorities had taken him for 10 days. By that time, his guilty plea was all over the newspapers and social media alive with advice about hanging the “scumbag animal.”

We can all imagine the family’s relief when the judge affirmed Lucas’ version of events, stating a number of times that the child must have been mistaken. However, this was not a case of the accused being found not guilty due to insufficient evidence but rather a female judge determining a male was to be believed. And that’s quite something.

What’s inspirational is Debbie’s advice to Lucas during the years he spent living at home with his parents, unable to get a job, and nervous about leaving the house. Debbie would make him come with her to the supermarket, telling him to “put your head up” and demonstrate to everyone that he had no reason to hideaway.

“It’s important not to be caught in shame,” she told him.

But the same applies to parents. Even after their sons are found not guilty of this type of allegation, most parents like Debbie get caught in shame. The whole ordeal is so overwhelming that they choose to just hide away and try to get on with their lives—which is perfectly understandable.

How rare it is for someone whose child has slipped the noose to come out fighting, willing to subject herself and her family to still more public scrutiny in the hope that others will take heed.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Bettina Arndt is an Australian writer and social commentator on gender issues. She was the country’s first sex therapist and feminist, before focusing on men’s rights. Arndt has authored several books and has written for major newspaper titles, magazines, and has featured regularly on television. She received the Order of Australia in 2020 for her work in promoting gender equity through advocacy for men. Find her online at her blog, BettinaArndt.substack.com.