Veteran educator charged with assault after unacceptable outburst of anger in the ACT
A 43-year-old early childhood education and care (ECEC) professional with 10 years experience in the sector has been sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court in relation to an incident where he “snapped” and “threw a three-year-old boy headfirst into the ground” after the child refused to pick up toys in a playground.
The case, which was extensively covered in the mainstream media, was heard by Magistrate Beth Campbell who told the educator that “The outburst of anger was unacceptable, inappropriate and not forgivable.”
Previously employed as a casual early childhood educator at a service in Conder, a suburb in the ACT, the educator was supervising children in a playground space at the end of December when it is alleged that he “yelled at the boy” to help pick up the toys because he had been playing with them, but the boy refused and jumped away onto play equipment.
It is alleged that the educator grabbed the boy by the leg, picked him up, and threw him headfirst toward the ground.
In a statement the child’s mother described the incident as one which caused “a massive change” in her son’s personality, saying that prior to the incident her son was outgoing, friendly, and “a crazy three-year-old daredevil”, but that afterwards there was a massive change in his personality.
He became shy, almost developed a fear of heights, started vomiting when at the childcare centre, lost weight, distanced himself from others and began acting out after the event, the mother said, including pushing his younger sister off the lounge.
Representing his client in court, the defendant’s lawyer said his client experienced “a momentary, albeit significant, lapse in judgement”.
The educator pled guilty to the assault charges, which left the boy with scratches to his chin and face, as well as grazes on his nose, lip and chin. Despite the relatively minor nature of the injuries the magistrate said the incident represents “an extraordinary loss of control” on the part of the educator, where the psychological impact on the boy was much more significant than the physical injuries.
The educator was sentenced to a 12-month good behaviour order and 148 hours of community service.