Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Mar. 14, 2005)

Teachers Protecting Teachers

John Pifer

The legal profession and our sacrosanct judiciary are not the only professions that follow the ‘circle the wagons’ mentality of protecting their own, regardless of members’ behaviour or criminality – the teaching orders in BC have turned it into an art form.

For years, teachers who disciplined for misconduct, malfeasance, sexual abuse, etceteras, have been protected by their federation and by the BC College of Teachers. They are rarely identified to the general public or even to the parents of the children they are supposed to protect.

The college has repeatedly dug in its heels to shelter the miscreants in their ranks, and this week decided not to release the name of a swim coach who engaged in “unnecessary and inappropriate touching of female students.” According to the college, to do so “would serve a purely punitive purpose.”

Well, Hello! Surely some punishment is deserved in such a case. Surely punitive measures must be an outcome for such behaviour by a person in a position of authority and trust over children. Yes, it would serve a punitive purpose – and it should.

An apologist for the College reportedly said the organization has a legal obligation to use discretion in its decisions. Discretion, fine, but protecting guilty predators from the glare of public condemnation is not discretion, it is cowardly and contemptible. Teachers who have been suspended for misconduct are regularly sheltered from exposure by this College, on the phony premise that revealing their identities might satisfy a public curiosity, but would not be in the public interest.

What hogwash! The only people well-served by such a stance are the predators and perverts who use their teaching position as a springboard to commit more crimes against kids, knowing that if caught in one school district, they can simply move to another where they may re-offend at will.

BC’s minister of education, Tom Christensen, is making a lot of noise in the lead-in to May’s election about how he intends to make it law for the names to be made public of teachers disciplined for misconduct. He promises tough new rules, including a publicly-accessible registry of the offenders – all good things, and long overdue. However, such promises have been made for years, with no results, as the teaching profession has repeatedly turned aside such scrutiny and exposure, and likely will do so again. Blowhard politicians who never follow through on their promises are a dime a dozen.

* * * * *

Still with teachers, have you had a look at some of the resolutions our educators deem to be important in the teaching of students in British Columbia today? The list for the annual general meeting of the BC Teachers’ Federation in Victoria this weekend includes these earth-shaking indispensable issues:

Boycotting Wal Marts because they have no unions

Lobbying Israel to dismantle the West Bank security fence

Demanding a scent-free workplace (no fart jokes, please!)

Not allowing any international students under the age of 12 to be allowed to attend school here.

You may rest assured that the pending provincial election, and the BCTF’s support for the New Democratic Party will be on the agenda, too. (The federation’s latest newsletter even contains membership forms for the socialist party). All this will unfold while most rank-and-file teachers who just want to do a good job of teaching children feel helpless as the group’s biased leadership pushes partisan politics.

Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at


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