The pedagogical relationship between teacher and student must be protected from influences or activities that can interfere with learning and personal development. Whenever a teacher is or in the future might reasonably become responsible for teaching, advising, or directly supervising a student, a sexual relationship between them is inappropriate and must be avoided.
In addition to creating the potential for coercion, any such relationship jeopardizes the integrity of the educational process by creating a conflict of interest and may impair the learning environment for other students. Finally, such situations may expose the University and the teacher to liability for violation of laws against sexual harassment and sex discrimination. Therefore, teachers see below must avoid sexual relationships with students over whom they have or might reasonably expect to have direct pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities, regardless of whether the relationship is consensual.
There is definitely an issue here, though. Electronic communication is different.
And while schools are creating web portals and actively encouraging online contact between staff and pupils, there are all sorts of guidelines warning us never ever to use Facebook with students, or to give out our personal mobile phone numbers or email addresses. The trouble is, it's very easy for the lines to get blurred. Public and private space get muddied. Mike, who teaches in London but — like the others interviewed for this piece — prefers not to be identified, cites the example of a teacher accompanying a school trip.
So what do you do? You don't want to risk losing the kids, so you give them your own mobile number.
Blurred boundaries for teachers
And once that's happened, once a number is out there. And emails, too; I've sent personal emails to sixth-formers wishing them luck with their exam the next day. You can't be a jobsworth these days. Alastair is responsible for his school's applications to Oxford and Cambridge.
An email or text is very much a one-to-one thing; a pupil might feel specially valued.
Even on the school site, I could be marking online, live, maybe quite late in the evening. I could have had a glass of wine.
I could start discussing work with a student who's also online. It's Facebook by another name, really. You could easily make comments you'd regret. It's not just teachers, though, who risk breaking the new rules. Digital communication is a two-way street. Phil Ryan, a now-retired science teacher from Liverpool, briefly became an unlikely — and, as far as he was concerned, unwished-for — internet sensation last year when mobile phone footage of him doing the funky chicken for a sixth-form class on the last day of term was posted on YouTube and attracted more than 5, viewings and plenty of adverse comments within days.
Earlier this year, more than 30 pupils were suspended from Grey Coat Hospital School, a Church of England secondary in London, after dozens of girls joined a Facebook group called The Hate Society and posted hundreds of "deeply insulting comments" about one of their teachers. According to a survey this spring for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Teachers Support Network, as many as one in 10 teachers have experienced some form of cyberbullying. The consequences can be serious for teachers, many of whom are less technologically sophisticated than their students: That can be incredibly distressing.
And they can do worse; there was a case in one school where pupils took a photo of a teacher's face, edited it onto a really gross, pornographic image of another woman's body, and stuck it online. It has called for any school policy that requests or requires teachers to disclose their mobile numbers or email addresses to pupils to be banned; wants new legislation to outlaw teachers being named on websites; would like strategies to prevent all use of mobile phones when school is in session; and has even demanded that pupils' phones be classed as potentially dangerous weapons.
But they've thrown up new pressures and concerns. For a start, they've changed expectations of teachers — there's a real expectation in some schools now that teachers will basically be available at the convenience of the pupil.
Yale University Publications 2018–12222
There's also, with email, an expectation of a more or less instant response. And these forms of communication are far more informal, in style and content. However, being just a few weeks into the school year, teachers should be under no illusion that any sexual relationship — penetrative or not — exposes them to the risk of conviction for a serious sexual offence, the consequences of which will be life-long. I blog often and I really appreciate your content. Your article has really peaked my interest. I will bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once per week.
Teachers and sexual relationships with students aged 16+ | The Sexual Offences Handbook
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All the law on Sexual Offending
The offences The law is clear. It enacted the following offences: The behaviour The offences are concerned with a range of behaviour, not just intercourse. The protection Sex crimes are there to protect children and young adults from themselves and others.
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Is it always abusive? Is it just an occupational hazard?