Early childhood teacher allegedly kissed 3yo on lips

The reliever teacher allegedly kissed a 3yo boy on the lips twice. Photo: Getty Images
The reliever teacher allegedly kissed a 3yo boy on the lips twice. Photo: Getty Images
By Jeremy Wilkinson

An early childhood relief teacher allegedly kissed a three-year-old boy on the lips multiple times, sparking serious concerns from his colleagues and parents.

The man’s alleged conduct towards four other children under the age of five is also under the microscope including “nuzzling” his face into the chest of a three-year-old girl, kissing another girl’s hand and rubbing the leg of a young boy.

The reliever teacher, who has interim name suppression, appeared before the Teacher’s Disciplinary Tribunal in Auckland today charged with serious misconduct for the incidents that allegedly occurred at two different centres in 2021.

One of the man’s former colleagues said she’d seen the man kiss a three-year-old boy on the lips on two occasions.

“The first time it was uncomfortable but I thought the child had initiated it,” she said.

“The second time because it was adult-initiated, it’s quite a personal thing. It’s something you do with family, not someone you barely know.

The man also allegedly tickled and then kissed the hand of a four-year-old girl.

Her father gave evidence before the tribunal saying his daughter wouldn’t normally discuss teacher conduct but following the incident she did, which prompted him to eventually raise it with the centre.

“Why is she coming home and being quite descriptive about things she’s clearly uncomfortable about?” he said.

“That for me was enough to raise questions.”

The man said that it was very clear that there was something not quite normal with her daily routine.

Another teacher at the centre said she watched the man nuzzle his head into a three-year-old girl’s chest while she was standing on a wooden box on the playground.

She said that the child wasn’t generally affectionate so it raised alarm bells for her, especially when coming from a man whom she barely knew.

“I thought the nuzzling was unusual.”

The woman said she’d heard stories from other staff members about other unusual conduct from the man towards children which might have coloured her interpretation of what she’d seen.

“I don’t kiss children or show affection like what a parent might show,” she told the tribunal.

A third teacher said she saw the man pick a child up with his hand in the centre of his bottom, over his nappy. She said it was necessary in early childcare to sometimes tap a nappy to see if it needed changing.

“But no one would check a nappy the way he was touching his bottom,” she said.

“It made me feel cringey, almost borderline disgusted.”

She said she also witnessed the reliever teacher kissing the same boy on the lips which she reported to her manager, but didn’t report the touching incident because the man was still new at the centre at the time.

“I thought he was new and it was better to observe and see if there was a pattern,” she said.

“It’s not practice that I really see I guess.”

The hearing continues tomorrow.