This is a dreadful story.
Either a young paedophile was let loose amongst preschoolers or a young teaching student has been falsely accused and wronged by the US justice system.
It concerns Malthe Thomsen, a 22 year old student teacher who has been accused of inappropriately touching multiple children in his care. Initially exonerated in a school investigation, his accuser approached the police and he was arrested, jailed and eventually released on bail to await a decision from the authorities as to whether they will proceed with a prosecution.
The case has many complications. His accuser was fired shortly after making the accusations. Some media reports claiming because she was a drama queen and troublemaker, others that she was a victim of whistle-blower revenge.
The police appear to have fooled him into a false confession based on video evidence they may or may nit have and a claim he could return to Denmark and be simply treated for his “problem”. He has subsequently recanted.
It could be a case of Danish standards and practices being misunderstood in the USA. In Danish kindergartens – which are the most enlightened and science-guided and enlightened institutions of their kind in the world – the pedagogues are physical with the kids. They cuddle them if they fall, they hug them, they sit on the teachers knees. All of this is considered normal and healthy. US friends have expressed their surprise at how different and tactile Danish teachers are compared to US counterparts. Maybe this kid fell victim to this gap?
Or maybe he really does have a problem and did touch the children inappropriately.
In any case, in Denmark male kindergarten teachers are considered extremely important and there has been a big push to try and redress the huge gender imbalance in pre-schools.
As one male kindergarten teacher explained to a colleague, the children need to see that there are different ways of handling the world. A male perspective and presence is seen as salutary and worth the very low risk of sexual abuse that having male teachers may increase.
n Denmark the damage done to boys and girls by having an unbalanced gender environment is now recognised. Unfortunately the Malthe Thomsen case reinforces stereotypes – male teachers are a risk and we should only have female pre-school teachers. It is a setback for enlightened Nordic educational practices that are usually decades ahead of the US.
As or Malthe Thomsen, let’s hope justice is done.