Monday, November 22, 2010

The CW Glamorizes Student Teacher Affairs

I have no problem admitting that I am addicted to what most would called teenage drama shows. What I do have a problem with is that one in particular is glamorizing a student teacher affair. They make a big point to show us that they both know it is wrong, but their feelings are so strong so they refuse to do what is right.

Not too long ago I worked in a school where this was a real life issue. A male teacher had an "alleged" affair with a high school girl, he was late 20s she was about 16 or 17 years old. There was nothing glamorous about the situation or what happened afterwards once the truth came to light. The lives of both people were ruined. Students were confused and placed blame on their fellow student because they did not understand just how wrong it was. Knowing that teenagers don't get that its wrong and they are quick to blame their peers is very disturbing to me. It seems like every month there is a new story of a male or female teacher taking advantage of a student. I remember when I was 17, I dated a 21 year old which seemed ok at the time, but I see just how wrong it was now that I'm older. It's not like the guy was buying me booze, I was a goodie goodie so I wasn't after all of that but just the shear fact that he was that  much older when I was in high school was a tad much. Parents need to teach their kids about dating beyond the 5 minute birds and bees conversation. The fact that high school crushes are turning into full blown sexual relationships between students and teachers is just wrong.

Life Unexpected is a show on The CW where a troubled girl who grew up bouncing around the foster care system finds her parents. I think she's about 14 on the show, and they have her in a relationship with a brand new teacher who must be early to mid 20s. They hooked up before she knew he was a teacher and once they both found out they could not stay away from each other even though they knew it was wrong. They even went as far to go to another town so they could have a date and be out in public holding hands and being a couple. It seems so inappropriate to be showing this to a targeted age group of teenage girls. It is romanticizing  student teacher relationships.

A good friend of mine and I were having this discussion the other day, and we both had very similar views that something needs to be done to stop things like this from happening. The problem is, there is no easy answer. Do you put a cap on how young new teachers are that deal with high school kids? Maybe. Understandably when you say that the first thing people think is that its typically happening with older male teachers, I don't agree. That's what we hear about in the media the most, but if you really look into the news you will see many more "relationships" with young teachers and high school students. When considering restrictions where does it end though. There are many talented young adults that work with kids and would never consider violating them.

There are so many kids out there having a tough time at home and they look to another adult for attention and acceptance. Where does a teacher or school worker draw the line when a student is coming to them? I think a teacher can be a mentor, but I do not think they can ever meet off school grounds. They can meet in school, before or after school or during lunch or study hall. Teachers and students have to use their best judgement in order not to set themselves up for a tough situation. What is the point where the line is crossed? Is it when a student and teacher are meeting daily, is it when they're hugging, what is that point? I think teachers need to all go through thorough training before they are hired, and every so often about appropriate behavior with students and colleagues. What are some other ways to stop relationships like this from happening?
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