Forced marriage: Union warns over ‘criminalising’ teachers

The UK’s largest teachers’ union has warned government not to introduce measures that would make teaching staff criminally responsible for failing to report the forced marriage of a pupil. The BBC reports.

A Home Office consultation is exploring such proposals for teachers, health workers and social workers.

But the National Education Union (NEU) said it “raises the stakes” without the required training for its members.

The government is aiming to find new ways to increase reporting and clamp down on forced marriage.

Since it was made a criminal offence in 2014, there have been only four convictions in England and Wales, figures provided by the Home Office show.

But Amanda Brown, the NEU’s deputy general secretary, said a law that could make teachers criminally responsible was the “wrong approach”.

“Hana” – not her real name – ran away from home a year ago, aged 18, and now lives in hiding. During her A-levels, her mother told her she was going to marry her first cousin, whom she had never met.

“I had anxiety attacks in school and my teachers would often ask, ‘Is something going on at home?’

“But I didn’t want to tell them that maybe I’m worried about marriage, that I can’t sleep at night [because I’m] just thinking and thinking about getting married to someone I don’t know.”

In Birmingham – where there is a relatively high number of forced marriages – police say they work closely with teachers, training them on how to spot signs a young person is at risk.

Bev Mabey, head of the Washwood Heath Multi-Academy Trust, in Birmingham, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “Girls would often ask us to hold their passports – so that when it came down to it, there wasn’t actually a way of leaving the country.”

Read the full article Forced marriage: Union warns over ‘criminalising’ teachers

Have you received any information or training on spotting signs of  forced marriage? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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