Recently, there have been numerous headlines about teachers being arrested or convicted of criminal sexual conduct. Unfortunately, this is not new behavior but an ongoing problem in our society. It is also incredibly unfortunate that the reaction to these crimes by the media and others offering commentary appears to minimize the action of these adult perpetrators and/or focuses the blame on the young people who have been victimized.
One recent headline, Grand Rapid Teacher Faces Prison in Sex Case, is a great place to start. Criminal sexual conduct is not about sex! It is about an abuse of power. For most of us, when we see or use the word “sex”, we conjure up an image of a consensual experience or relationship. Not for a sex offender – it does not bother them to have sex with someone who does not want it.
Many commenters on local media stories or social media sites are often sympathetic to the abuser. In many posts, commenters write about their own “hot” teacher experiences of their youth and others are quick to blame it on the student. I don’t know about you but I think it’s incredibly unlikely that these incidents are just snippy little games cooked up by bored girls and boys.
The reality is that the unethical and downright disturbing behavior of a teacher making sexual advances or assault on a student is wrong no matter what the circumstances. Again, it’s not about sex, it’s about power and control. Many times, there is manipulation or “grooming” that takes place to gain their trust prior to the assault.
As parents, we entrust our children to the teachers and other staff at their schools. It is their job to educate and protect – not violate – your child. It is important to talk to your child or teen about the warning signs that someone is attempting to take advantage of them. They need to know that if a teacher or another person of “authority” is doing something to make them uncomfortable, on any level, they have the right to speak out.
The HAVEN Prevention Education Department offers age-appropriate school programs that help children, from pre-K to high school, understand many topics, including body ownership, risk reduction strategies and bystander intervention. To learn more or request a speaker call 248-334-1284, ext. 360, complete the speaker request form.