There is growing concern as the number of inappropriate teacher-student relationships continues to rise. Many of these educators did not set out to have a sexual relationship with their student. When asked about their reasons, “It just happened” is a common answer.
But how does it happen?
It often happens gradually as teachers form close relationships with students. These close relationships may be formed through the teacher’s involvement in extracurricular school activities, social media, or mentoring roles. As closeness develops, some teachers begin to cross boundaries. For example, teachers may share too much personal information, give the student special privileges or gifts, or begin relying on the student for emotional support. Small boundary crossings often lead to larger boundary crossings.
The ultimate boundary crossing occurs when a teacher has a sexual relationship with a student. Such behavior has devastating consequences for the student, the student’s family members, and the school system. Therefore, it is crucial that schools, teachers, and parents take action to prevent these inappropriate relationships before they are started.
What can schools do?
1. Provide training for teachers about boundary crossings
2. Provide support and mentoring to teachers
3. Provide training for students about appropriate teacher-student boundaries
What can teachers do?
- Routinely ask themselves the following questions:
* Who does this relationship benefit?
* Why am I seeking extra contact with this student? Is it to meet my needs or the student’s need
- Be aware of boundary crossings occurring with other teachers, and provide accountability.
What can parents do?
1. Communicate with children frequently about their relationships, stressors, concerns, and everyday life events. Make time each day to stay up to date on important events and concerns for your child.
2. Trust your instincts. If your child’s relationship with their teacher seems too close or inappropriate, investigate and set appropriate limits.
Note: This is a growing concern that has recently been addressed by Texas lawmakers. Dr. Becker was interviewed about this topic by ABC’s News Channel 25. Click the link here to view the full story and interview.