I’m sure most of us could tell a similar story: in my high school years, it was common schoolyard knowledge that one of the teachers was “shagging” a student. The pair married almost immediately after she finished school in Year 11. Whether they’re still married, I have no idea. Perhaps theirs has been a committed and long-term partnership, in which case, good luck to them, I suppose.
Ruling out a whirlwind romance over the summer holidays, it seems inescapable that there was some kind of “relationship” going on while she was still a student. How on earth could that be considered appropriate, let alone professionally ethical? And how common is that kind of story?
Common enough, it seems, for the industry regulator to issue a new rule about it.
Victorian teachers will be banned from having sex with former students for at least two years after the students finish their secondary education, under a shake-up of rules governing teacher behaviour.
But, if this long-gone teacher seems to at least have made an honest man out of himself by marrying his student paramour, there are others of far more predatory persuasion.
The institute was prompted to update the code for the first time in more than a decade after two inquiries into child sexual abuse – the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry in Victoria and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – highlighted the risk of grooming by teachers.
Grooming behaviour involves a perpetrator using a position of trust to create opportunities for future abuse.
The media and the public sphere have been almost obsessive on the subject of Catholic priests abusing children – yet almost nothing is said about teacher abuse, despite it being clearly defined as an issue at the Royal Commission. About 59 Catholic priests are known to be abusers over the last half-century. Yet, just between 2006 and 2017, 104 teachers in NSW alone were dismissed or allowed to resign following proven allegations of sexual misconduct with students. Another 41 were sacked for possessing child abuse material.
At the Royal Commission one in three abuse survivors testifying at Australia’s royal commission into institutional child abuse reported that they had been abused at school. While some of those would certainly have been church schools and involved priests, at least half of the school abuse was reported at government schools.
Yet you won’t find fashionably left-wing comedians basing whole routines on denigrating teachers as paedos with chalk. No ABC journalists are writing fevered potboilers accusing prominent teachers of all manner of lurid abuse.
In the US at least, teacher abuse seems to have been on the rise in recent years. “It’s an epidemic”, “a pandemic”, according to investigators.
The current code prohibits relationships between students and teachers while the student is enrolled at school, but makes no mention of relationships after a student has graduated.
The institute’s review identified a gap in which teachers could groom students during their final years of school and then exploit that relationship immediately following the end of their professional relationship.
To be fair, such cases seem to be a minority of teachers – but, then, the same was even more true of priests (even if the small number of actual clerical abusers were often shockingly prolific in their crimes).
The Victorian Institute of Teaching says its new guidelines are designed to reflect more contemporary expectations on teachers. Perhaps that is a tacit acknowledgement that more parents are growing more concerned over the creep of “gender whisperers” in schools and the ever-more explicit promotion of fringe ideas of sexuality.
“The revised code more appropriately reflects the significant role that teachers play in providing for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, as well as the unique position of trust and influence they have over their learners.”The Age
A trust that too many overly-woke teachers and education bureaucrats seem determined to abuse.
No doubt the vast majority of ethical and decent teachers will be appalled at being tarred with the same brush as a minority of predators. Now they know how the clergy must feel.
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