re: 'Victims of sexual abuse: Girls get our sympathy; boys get high-fives' (Simone Sebastian, Commentary section, The Washington Post 1/12/15)
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Wrongly blaming boys for being hot for teacher
It is a disconcerting occurrence reported in the mainstream media on a seemingly weekly basis: female teacher sexual abuse of underage boys. As a former inner city middle school teacher, I can speak with experience regarding the appropriate dynamics between students and teachers. Indeed, I view the vocation of teaching of children as a sacred trust. Even though I have no children of my own, I viewed my students as "my" kids in a quasi-parental way. An effective teachers needs to reach his students by making a benevolent, but wholly platonic connection. With the likelihood of both parents working long hours, many of them spent more time interacting with me in the classroom setting than with their own parents. Therefore, I felt an additional responsibility to present myself in a cordial, but distant and professional way. From a practical level, a teacher wears many hats: role model, advisor, authority figure, learning resource. Teaching is more than just mastery of a given subject, the ability to break down a skill set into its component parts and communicate them clearly to others. It is more akin to the supportive but objective doctor-patient relationship. In both cases, the relationship is inherently and necessarily unequal with the benefit flowing one way to the lesser party. Interaction causes the doctor to know the patient but only so far as to assist in his treatment. Typically the patient knows almost nothing about the doctor's private life. When this imbalance is exploited by the practitioner it is, at the very least, unethical. However, when dealing with minors who correctly cannot give legal consent despite technical willingness, it is criminal. Justifying the child's victimization because his gender makes him technically stronger than his partner, blaming his hormones or the impulsiveness and short-sighted nature of his youth is a smokescreen that in numerous cases protects the adult female predator. Society should strive to protect the underage victim regardless of gender and likewise equally prosecute perpetrators on the same basis. While it is true that sexually is inherently a potent issue for human beings, it should only be explored consensually by mature parties where no power imbalance exists.