SHARE When a year-old female teacher was arrested for having a sexual relationship with her year-old student, it made the local news. They had met when she was his teacher and began dating, and continued even after she had changed schools. Her behavior reached the eyes and ears of the police Sex Crimes Unit, who made the arrest. When the local paper ran the story, the comments from readers all male, of course , ran along the usual: I can keep my mouth shut!
But when the roles are reversed, and a year-old male teacher has a sexual relationship with one of his year-old female students, let the howling for justice begin. Hang that pedophile from the highest oak! These statements are not made when the teacher is a male and the victims are of either sex.
If a year-old male teacher were to engage in a sexual relationship with a year-old male student, he would be called a pervert in print, and worse. Again, there is a constant double standard when female teachers are the perpetrators. When it comes to violence against others, women are rarely considered as having that potential until they act out in horrific ways. When they do, many people are shocked, since they rarely consider women to have the same urges for violence, revenge, and the desire to create mass casualties.
Women do bad things too. So when it comes to sexual behavior with a male student, do female teachers use the same techniques of gradualism, grooming, flirting , and targeting as their male counterparts?
Do female teachers who want sex seek out their targets specifically, looking for vulnerabilities, poor or missing family relationships, early sexual interest, and early physical development via male puberty? Is there more institutional denial on school campuses and from administrators and districts as to the possibility of a female teacher engaging in sex with her student?
Motive, in cases where a teacher establishes a sexual relationship with a student, is both internal and not easily understood. But for female teachers, other motives may come into play: Are any of these valid reasons? Of course not, because all teachers are warned from the day they enter their degree programs and from the moment they get hired, and during in-service training classes and staff development days to follow the appropriate, age-old, and ethical warning: Do not have a physical relationship with a student.
Since jail penalties differ widely in severity from state to state, the biggest damage to the female teacher is more often about killing her career and the shame factor from peers, colleagues, family, and strangers who recognize her name from the police blotter. Some of these cases show up on tabloid TV shows and related pop culture magazines.
When the classroom crosses over to the bedroom, the people who surround female teachers who become sexual predators—other teachers, school administrators, counselors, therapists, and the police—have a duty to act. Gender is not the issue and same-sex sexual orientation is not the issue; bad boundaries, harmful behavior, unethical conduct, and illegal sex acts with minors are the issues. The double standard as to how we perceive and prosecute these cases needs to stop. He consults, speaks, and writes on high-risk human resource challenges, employee coaching , corporate security, and police issues.
He worked for the San Diego Police Department for 15 years. He can be reached at drsteve drstevealbrecht.