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by Patti Gislason

Many universities are now either implementing or in the stages of considering a policy that bans affairs between professors and students. At the university level, the people involved are legally adults, but it is recognized that these kinds of relationships have a negative impact on the student, the teacher, the learning process and the reputation of the university. The impact at a high school level has even more serious social and emotional problems.

‘Age of consent' is a term used to define the age at which a personal is considered legally able to make an informed, independent decision about having sex. The age differs from country to country, but the purpose is the same. It's to protect those too young to handle this kind of relationship emotionally or lack the confidence or assertiveness to say ‘no'.

There have been very public cases, in which a teacher has engaged in sexual relations with a student. The pattern and justifications have been similar in each situation. Although it is often argued that it is a consensual relationship, the term statutory rape applies when a sexual relationship occurs between an adult and someone who has not reached the age of consent. It is also considered sexual abuse when an adult uses either age or authority to have sex with a young person.

While students may be sexually curious, it needs to be understood that a relationship with a teacher can be damaging in more ways then can be imagined. There are ways that students can protect themselves from falling into this kind of situation, which begins with a measure of self-control and an awareness of what is considered inappropriate behaviour on the part of the teacher.

Teachers shouldn't be:

  • Engaging in excessive touching
  • Meeting behind closed doors with a student on a regular basis
  • Sharing stories of their personal life in regard to dating, sexual practices or romantic involvement
  • Flirting or telling dirty jokes
  • Dressing in a sexy manner inappropriate for a teacher
Most of all remember that the relationship may seem like the most important thing in the world at the time, but you only have one youth. The law is there to protect kids from making inappropriate commitments that will effect them for the rest of their lives.



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