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Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Teacher-Student Relationship Epidemic

It's an embarrassing epidemic that no one wants to talk about--teacher-student relationships. Unfortunately, the numbers continue to rise, and so much so that the statistics are alarming! 

A 2015 study, "Have Teacher-Student Sex Crimes Become a National Crisis?"  quoted Terry Abbot, a public relations executive and former chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Education, who said, "School districts need to take this issue seriously,” Abbott says over the phone from an education conference in Austin, Texas. “They need to understand that this is a real issue, a crisis, and they need to attack it as such.” 

Since there is no state or national reporting system for teacher-student relationships, it is hard to track and stop abusers. Often times, local news media stations air reports of misconduct, but a teacher moves on to another district or state and begins a pattern of abuse all over again. A proper state and federal tracking system needs to implemented and enforced. 

In order for a state and national tracking system to work, however, administrators and districts must be willing to report teacher-student relationships as crimes. Since such incidents give districts black marks, this step is often skipped. Also, these crimes may not make it to courts for prosecution. Proving misconduct can be costly, difficult, and time consuming to all parties involved. Guidelines need to be established that properly define levels and punishments of teacher-student relationships. 

An article, "State Officials Open Up About the Increase in Inappropriate Student-Teacher Relationships" by KFOR News Channel 4 in Oklahoma City offers parents a list of warning signs:

  • studying with a teacher late in the evening
  • teacher asks student to come over to her/his house to get help
  • student wants to hang out with a teacher more than other adults
  • getting gifts from a teacher
Social media is making it harder for administrators and districts to catch offenders. According to the Channel 4 report, more than "91% of students" are online. Teachers and students are using programs that go undetected or messages suddenly disappear after being read. Laura Callahan, with Teachers Education Association in Texas, said in an article titled, "State Agency Wants Help Preventing Student, Teacher Relationships", that "Probably 99% of cases that come across the investigators desks, of an inappropriate relationships, have something to do with social media or electronic media." Better social media school policies and enforcement appears to be piece of the puzzle when it comes to solving teacher-student relationships. 

It is hard to combat an epidemic when no one is talking about the problem. Until administrators and districts agree to take the issue seriously, there is little hope the teacher-student relationship epidemic will decline. 

Help become part of the solution to the teacher-student relationship by educating students and teachers about the epidemic.

"5,000 teens a year end up in abuse of power relationships" and stories from teens were weaved into the fictional tale of Natalie: Diary of a Senior Year. The book is a coming-of-age mystery that addresses today's teenage social issues of abortion, addiction, love, and revenge.

Senior year was supposed to be Natalie’s best with prom, high school graduation, and plans for college taking place. Then unexpectedly, the senior’s death shocked the community. Was it murder or suicide? When fifteen-year-old Tallie finds her cousin’s hidden diary, the investigation heats up, and summer vacation provides the perfect opportunity to uncover the mysterious death. But Tallie soon realizes her cousin is not the person the family thought she was. The secrets that are discovered may haunt the community for the rest of its life. 

A sensual coming-of-age novel written in chapter and diary format, Natalie: Diary of a Senior Year explores the inner turmoil young women often face in today’s society.

Be sure to apply age appropriate guidelines when reading this novel.


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