Teacher censured for assaulting daughter after hearing about ‘marks of a sexual nature’ on her neck

An early childhood teacher has been censured for assaulting her daughter after hearing she’d been with a boy who’d placed marks ‘from a sexual nature’ around her neck.

The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal found her behaviour amounted to misconduct and fell well below the expected conduct of a practising teacher.

The teacher’s name has been permanently suppressed, as have any details that might identify her or her children.

In March 2019, the teacher got into an argument with her then 12-year-old daughter in suburban Wellington.

“During the argument, the respondent pushed her daughter in the face and scratched her around her chest and neck area,” the tribunal heard.

“As a result of the incident, the respondent’s daughter suffered an injury below her right eye, and scratches and redness to her shoulder and chest area.”

The teacher pulled her daughter into her car and drove her home, where the frightened tween ran inside and hid until police arrived.

An early childhood teacher at the time, she admitted to officers that she’d “lost the plot” during the argument.

The woman pleaded guilty to one charge of assault on a person in a family relationship and was granted a discharge without conviction.

She told the Council that on the day of the assault her sister had texted her to say the 12-year-old had been “having relations with a boy and had ‘placed marks that were from a sexual nature around her neck’.”

The teacher felt sad that her daughter hadn’t talked to her about the situation and worried that her daughter was sexually active with the boy, she said.

She felt “a sense of emotion take over her” before the assault, the tribunal heard.

While the incident did not happen while the woman was teaching, tribunal Deputy Chairwoman Jo Hughson agreed that the woman’s behaviour was unacceptable as a teacher and indicated a lack of judgment and self-control on her part.

“However, the Tribunal is satisfied the conduct was a one-off heat-of-the-moment loss of composure by a frustrated parent towards her pre-teenage daughter, in circumstances where the respondent was concerned about her daughter’s sexual behaviour at the age of 12,” Hughson wrote in a recent decision.

“It appears to have arisen from the respondent’s overwhelming concern for her daughter’s safety, rather than was intended to cause her harm.”

Hughson found the woman’s behaviour ultimately didn’t adversely reflect on the woman’s fitness to be a teacher, nor did it bring the teaching profession into disrepute.

For her behaviour, the teacher was censured – to express the Tribunal’s disapproval of her conduct, with the conditions recorded on the Teachers’ Register.

The tribunal heard that the teacher had expressed remorse and insight into her behaviour and had co-operated during the criminal process, pleading guilty to the charge at an early stage.

She told the tribunal the ordeal “had changed her views on parenting and setting clear communication lines between her and her daughter” and the two had participated in a positive restorative justice conference, where she apologised for her actions.

The teacher had also completed a 16-week family violence programme, had been open about the criminal charge with her employer and had voluntarily agreed to engage in mentoring and to provide updates to the Teaching Council.

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