Teachers are good people. Societal norms suggest you acknowledge that teaching is a noble profession, largely populated by selfless individuals who sacrifice for their community and for the children. It’s probably true, or largely true. Regardless, if you don’t recite is as a predicate to any objective discussion about America’s teaching staffs, you will be deemed a hater. You don’t need that on your permanent record.
Being compared in nobility to First Responders, Soldiers in Foreign Wars, and Living Organ Donors has its privileges. As does powerful public sector union backing. The combination provides at least our nation’s public school teachers with an unparalleled advantage to other regular Joes in the handling of illicit workplace behavior. To the point that data on crimes committed by working teachers and schools staff are simply not available. Reporting on crimes against teachers is quite the opposite, with reams of data available with a simple Google search. Both seem relevant; only one is allowed to be tracked.
Teachers are not alone in their ability to shield their occupational infraction records. Try finding audited stats on crimes committed by police officers, let alone information on the resolution of complaints filed against police officers. At best you might hear that an officer got reassigned to a lesser department, and take from that what you may. A powerful union connected to those in power is a very valuable asset. The public is completely dark as to the internal adjudication of these matters. Are you dealing with a cop with a solid record or one with a troubled past? You’d have no idea. That doesn’t seem healthy.
The same is true with teaching staffs. Evidence of lackluster professional performance is nowhere to be found. Even evidence of criminal accusations against teachers or school staff is shielded from public view. You look for reassignments, removal from classroom duties, or teachers sent to the infamous “waiting rooms” at district offices because they can’t be fired but they’re deemed too risky to be in classrooms, so they are paid to sit in an empty office and read magazines. The only public record created is when there is an actual arrest, which provides at least an anecdotal chain of cases to review. All of which brings us to the sharp rise in news reporting on teacher-on-student sex crimes. Or more specifically, female teacher-on-student sex crimes, since these salacious cases are never missed by the press.
Almost single major online news source, including the digital arms of noteworthy national newspapers, has wandered into the bounty of clicks available from female teacher arrested for sleeping with student sensational stories. They are sensational by their very nature, let alone the lurid details of backseat humping and gymnasium rendezvous. There are a few select outlets, such as the New York Times, which have refrained from the SEO friendly candy of randy, often quite attractive and married, 20-and-30-something female teachers caught having sexual affairs with teen boys. Though even the Times felt obliged to dip their feet into the female teacher sex scandal keyword game by running an expose on how Fox News was over-covering female teacher sex scandals. Quite the two birds with one stone: rip on your hated media competitor whilst letting Google know you’re in the “teacher sex scandal” search engine result game.
The bulk of the article by Jonathan Galinsky discusses Fox News’ rapid increase in stories involving female teacher sex crimes as coinciding with their own sexual harassment scandals in the second half of 2017. The implication seems to be that covering female teacher sex scandals is indicative of the sexist culture at Fox News, though the shift in coverage is blamed on the new Fix News digital chief who came over from NBC’s Today Show. Galinsky concedes that the New York Post and New York Daily News cover the topic extensively, and CBS and The Washington Post have gone galleries on female teachers busted for sex with students. So, essentially, his callout is merely a hit piece on Fox News for doing what every other media outlet looking for an online audience and engagement is doing. Fox probably deserves a sleazy call out, though this is a cheap means for the Times to reprise the Bill O’Reilly, et. al, harassment cases.
More remarkable about the Times article is wherein they insist on printing the suggestion that female teachers are not having sex with students more now than at any time previously. Since this seems counterintuitive to the almost daily reported cases, including the 98 such cases Galinsky points out Fox News alone reported on in the second half of 2017, you’d think they’d provide decent evidence to support their claim. They don’t. Zero hard facts.
Here’s what the Times does claim. First, sex crimes committed by women against both adults and children make up a small share of sexual offenses in the United States. This is a long since statistically settled, if not common sense settled, matter. What is worth noting is that this red herring general stat says nothing whatsoever about whether teachers having sex with students cases are on the rise, and therein, if a growing numbers of the perpetrators are women.
Second, the article quotes a source from the Center for Sex Offender Management and a Montreal Professor who researches sex offenders, both who claim they are not aware of any data showing a rise in female teacher sexual offense. Which is an interesting quote, since there is no data to be had. So you’re also not aware of any data not showing the rise. You’re not aware of anything. This is a fallacy of statistics. Or in short, can you please show me the numbers on which you’re basing your conclusion? I’ll wait. It’s kind of unfortunate that the Times fired all of their copy editors and fact checkers to save a buck. This is what you get.
It’s important to note that nobody knows definitively whether or not teacher-student sex cases are on the rise nationwide because it’s impossible to definitively ascertain. Hence, we are left with bits and pieces of evidence; and those bits and pieces all point strongly to, yes, indeed it’s on a sharp rise.
Teacher Mary Kay Letourneu is often credited with launching the national fascination with female teacher sexual relations with young students. In 1996, the 34-year old teacher infamously bedded a twelve year old student from her class in the State of Washington, ultimately becoming pregnant, followed shortly thereafter by prison. Letourneau was certainly the biggest such case in the cable news world of that decade, and the first glimpse the nation saw of a female teacher “in love” with a young boy in her class. For years, the cliche of the male teacher seducing the teen “jail bait” flirting with him in class had lingered. But this was the first glimpse at grown, not unsightly woman, having a full blown intimate relationship with a young male student. This was male pubescent fantasy, straight out of late night Cinemax skin flicks.
That archetypal fantasy was cemented with the arrest of blonde former model turned 24-year old Florida teacher, Debra Lafave in 2004. Here was a “hot teacher” from Central Casting, with a fourteen year old love interest. Lafave probably first spawned the comment section note in these stories by almost every man ever: “Where was she when I was in school?” Ironically, that’s a worthwhile question as people ponder if the actual background and composition of female teachers hasn’t changed in recent decades. Out with the chiding career school maids on early sweet pensions, and in with the more independent, breezy, and socially desirable and sexually active young female teacher. It’s quite possible that the teaching profession is attracting a new breed of more personally adventurous and ambitious women.
In the past decade, a number of media outlets have attempted to garner statistics on teacher sex crime trends, to see if they in any way matched the growth of such crimes in public perception. The results were incomplete, but worth citing.
In a 2011, the post-feminist blog, Jezebel, posted an article inquiring as to whether “cops and teachers” were both committing more sex crimes. They too note the lack of teacher illicit behavior data, though they cite a 2007 ABC News report that found that in their investigation into teachers in the State of New York, teacher-student sex cases were up dramatically. Though again, no national data. Though you’d wonder how an entire state might be an outlier to country-wide trends. New York brags about their water supply, but unlikely it’s causing their adult teaching population to be suddenly horny and irresponsible for teen flesh. The ABC study from 2007 also cites a Wellesley College report that collected hundreds of teacher-student sex cases. The cases are individually anecdotal, but collectively forming a pictures.
In 2015, the Washington Post published a guest editorial by Terry Abbott, a former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education. The headline was rather telling, “More teachers are having sex with their students. Here’s how schools can stop them.” Blunt enough. Abbott claimed that his new digital company tracks all reports of school staff-student sex cases and in 2014 there were 781 such adults either arrested or publicly accused of having had sex with students.
Every week has brought news of 15 young people, on average, who were sexually victimized by the educators entrusted with protecting them. That’s an abhorrent rate and a trend that deserves far more attention from school leaders and policy makers.
But it won’t. Public sector unions being in control of incredible political sway at all levels. Abbott pointed to three examples of states where investigations into teacher and student sexual relations have increased notably in the past few years: such cases in Texas have risen 27-percent from 2012-2015, Kentucky schools noted a rise from 25 to 45 cases per year from 2010-2011, and a tripling of teacher-student sex cases in Alabama from 2009 to 2013. Again, incomplete evidence available, but all pointing toward material increases, and based upon the numbers, nationally would speak to well in excess of a thousand cases a year. And that’s where there have been reporting of arrests, obviously not including the unreported cases which logic dictates would be well in excess of the number uncovered and made public. A couple thousand teacher-student sex cases may be statistically irrelevant to the general student population, but still many multiples in excess of student shootings and those seem to be garner much public policy attention.
In his article, Abbott points to the rise in social media and cellphone communications between teachers and students as a catalyst for ultimate taboo relationships. As the site owner of CaseyAnthony.com, which dutifully reports on female teacher sex scandals because they are amazing for business, I can tell you that almost every single case the site covers involves a relationship that began through digital communications. The phones and the apps offer a tremendous breakdown in barriers that used to exist between adults and children. More sinister child predators exploited this factor almost immediately to lure children into their clutches. Teachers followed suit not long after, though under the guise of being “helpful”, then “flirtatious”, then “romantic”, then “doing something stupid”. The progression from “Hey, it’s Mrs. Jones here, do you need any help with your assignment?” to sending topless photos with “I can’t believe I’m sending you these” is almost rote at this point in these cases. The classroom has become a Tinder domain for these particular teachers. Yes, it’s still mostly men violating these long standing statutory rules; but the sheer number of female teacher-student sex cases seems impossible to ignore.
Imagine in the past if a female teacher felt pangs for her student for whatever reason, she would be hard pressed to find a way to communicate with them freely and privately. Now it’s beyond simplistic, universal, and it takes pictures when you’re intoxicated. This technology shift, along with those changing demographics of female teachers, has led to a seemingly daily breaking news story of a relatively young, often recently married, female teacher arrested for a rather serious fling with boys ranging from 12-17. In some States, they have had to pass specific laws stating that while the statutory age of consent may be met by the student, no teacher under any circumstances is allowed to have sexual relations with any student prior to high school graduation, regardless if the student is considered an adult by age. Those laws are now being challenged in multiple states.
You wonder why those in academia and certain news outlets like the Times might wish to adamantly insist there isn’t a marked increased in teacher-student sex cases in this country; that it’s merely an opportunistic media creation. Those are known to happen, if you happen to watch the network or cable news, much of it is hyperbolized coverage of radically overstated trends and happenings, if not an entire story based off one Tweet response. Nobody really reports the news anymore, they simply shape it and sell it. There’s no doubt that female teacher sex stories are a tremendously commercial property. There’s a reason Huffington Post and Daily Mail own the search-engine results on any celebrity and the word “topless” even if they don’t print topless photos. Everybody is tabloid these days. It’s largely out of business survival. Though the intentional squashing of female teacher sex crimes surely comes from an instinct to protect teachers, women, public employees, and the public school system in general.
While it’s easy to grin and snicker off a teen boy having his world rocked by his mischievous, if not emotionally troubled, attractive female teacher, these cases have real world consequences. Not merely for the destruction of the life and family of the teacher, or if you believe in the psychological damage done to the teen boy, which some people do, but in civil exposure and ultimate taxpayer funded payouts by the school districts. That oral sex education the teacher provided to the high school football player could easily cost the district mid-six figures in cash settlement. Multiply that by the number of cases reported annually and you have a massive financial exposure by the school system on behalf of their randy and lawbreaking teachers. And this is the type of cost factor you’d think should never be an issue in the first place. The one rule of teaching really is — don’t touch the students. It’s almost impossible to be fired otherwise, let alone arrested and imprisoned.
In casual summation, nobody knows nothing. As an anecdotal subject matter expert, I and my peers can tell you certainly there’s the appearance of a substantial, if not startling rise, in the number of teacher-student sex cases, including those with female teachers as perpetrators. Anybody who tells you differently, please ask them for the data upon which they’re basing their refutation. They have none. Don’t be afraid to ask.
It’s incumbent upon the Flat Earthers to prove the rest of the world wrong, not the other way around. I’d call for the convening of a Congressional panel on this teacher-student sex crimes trend, but we all know that isn’t coming. Right now, we’re not even allowed to collect the facts.
(Feature image: Iowa teacher, Mary Beth Haglin. Read her story here.)