This is the final entry in the series.
So the teacher and the student are out, authorities are involved and now damage control and assessment begins. Suspensions, terminations, criminal investigations, restraining orders, civil lawsuits – these are some of the things that must be navigated. The teacher gets blasted in the news; the student’s identity is withheld, as most times they’re under the age of 18 when the situation was initiated.
Did this happen when I was growing up? I’m sure it did. But these days, you-know-what makes a difference in how these stories are covered.
As mentioned in previous posts, we live in the social media era where even mere accusations have exponentially amplified consequences. Once a name hits the airwaves, it is impossible to undo perceptions. On the one hand, it’s justified: teacher has taken advantage of the relationship with the student. On the other hand, as with any crimes, the dehumanization and stigmatization of both teacher and student can be crippling.
Some weather the initial storm, as seen in the story above. Some of these have violent outcomes…recently there was a youth in NYC who was involved with a student teacher relationship. The teacher got pregnant, had the child and the young man now stands accused for a double murder.
As usual, when we view the snippets of the news articles we only truly get a framed snapshot to draw judgement upon. It’s been very rarely reported that these relationships are successful; one reason may be due to the in balancing power dynamic that fueled the relationship intitslly.
What are the lessons to be learned here? Well, besides the generic “teachers don’t sleep with students”, there are a few deeper things to consider. Firstly, the issues of consent is hard to establish in any relationship with an unequal power dynamic, such as a teacher-student one. Secondly, the abuse of this relationship on the student end can possibly skew how relationships with authorities and partners going forward are built and managed. Thirdly, while the society supposedly thrives on the idea of “second chances”, reality is that stain for the teacher is permanent in so many levels.
So is this all worth it? Well, like anything else driven by base motivations, that’s for the person to decide. I’d certainly caution against it, as the price is not worth it for the immediate gratification. But until we address some of the issues outlined in this series, we’ll always see stories like these in the news.