There has been almost an epidemic of recent stories about female teachers having sex with their students. Almost every state in the United States is reporting these stories, and everyone is asking the same question, why? In 2004, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 40% of perpetrators of unwanted sexual attention toward children were women. That number has steadily risen over the past nine years.
To understand why a female teacher would become sexually involved with one of her students you have to understand what is going on in their head. Most of these women appear as vibrant, normal, healthy adult women, but they may feel like teenagers themselves inside. Many of them have arrested emotional development, and they giggle and carry on very much as a teenager. What is odder is they choose one aspect of the student they focus on, and they idealize that aspect into being one of honesty, integrity, honorable and pure or innocent from the jadedness of the outside world. Soon they see this teenager as forty or thirty five (depending on their age), and themselves very similar in age and in love. In psychology, this is frequently seen and is called counter-transference. The teacher focuses on one aspect of the child and idealizes it romantically; she then projects that on to her distorted reality. No one else realistically sees what the teacher has created in her mind. It becomes so bizarre that soon the teacher is planning her married life with kids after her student finishes high school.
An important aspect of all of these types of relationship is we hear about the sex part because that ultimately leads to the arrest of the teacher. However, long before the sex is the emotional relationship. The grooming, the meeting up, the numerous texts, the cute hand written love letters, and the sleepless nights that are talked about before and after school. If an intervention is made at this time, you possibly could end the relationship getting help for the child and taking legal action against the teacher. The emotional part isn't usually caught and the reasons are many. First of all, the child usually doesn't say anything. They may be afraid for their grade, or they may like the extra attention or they may feel guilty and/or fearful. Secondly, parents may not be alerted to it, because they may brush it off with thoughts that the teacher's extra attention is in an effort to help their child. Lastly, if other kids do hear about it, they usually feel confused, concerned with who to tell, and often times said they didn't believe it.
Our teens and tweens' lives revolve around school. For the most part, females working in the school are mentors for our children, and help our children become successful well-adjusted adults. When sexual abuse happens to any child it is horrendous, but when it happens at school with a teacher the end result can be tragic. As parents, there are signs that can alert you to something going on with your child. As with all things, it begins with open discussion, both talking and listening to your child. You cannot begin a conversation about sexual boundaries if you aren't engaged with your child on a day to day basis. Keep communication open and talk frequently to your child about their school life.
Most abuse begins with a process called "grooming." If you notice your child engaged with any of these activities and you feel uncomfortable, it is time to talk to your child.
As a parent, if you notice these behaviors, begin limiting your child's time with their teacher. Talk to your child in a safe and supportive environment about their relationship with their teacher. Sexual abuse is a crime, and if it is happening to your child, they are being victimized. You can expect them to be afraid, evasive and nervous. Reassuring them that it is not their fault and that you will help them is the most important thing to be conveyed. –Mary Jo Rapini
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