In the nineties, when I attended a boarding school for four years, it was well-known that there were certain students who flirted with teachers and other staff members. Whether in the hope of getting better grades or out of sheer playful teenage lust, it was evident to most of us who was flirting with whom. Some students appeared much needier for adult attention than others and wore their illicit affair as a badge of courage — the teacher’s pet. There are obvious consequences for the promiscuous behavior on both sides. Nobody wants to snitch on anybody, but in all fairness, there are two sides to every story being exposed and every secret illicit act.
In teaching these adolescent ladies and gentlemen manners, what can schools do today to end sexual abuse?
Aside from hiring an undercover detective to bring predators to justice, it would be far more productive in the long run for schools to offer stronger professional support to their faculty. There is the taboo of the teacher-student relationship.
There are important boundaries which must never be crossed. However, when the boundaries become hazy, teachers are more apt to find themselves dazzled — and more than likely, confused. They need to find a way to talk about the feelings being experienced by both the teacher and the student, and how to make sense of them.
The taboo, of course, makes the adult and the teenager feel humiliated, because in shame they are forced to hide their emotions.
In a perfect world, there would be a way for the teacher to acknowledge his or her feelings by talking them through. That process should strengthen their resolve rather than make them feel that their emotions are a show of weakness, sickness, perverseness. It goes without saying that the child should have support, too, but it is the adult who is legally and ethically responsible for handling his or her power in a healthy manner.
The adult, then, would be better able to steer the relationship. When they understand that when they have greater control over the relation with the student, fewer boundaries are crossed.
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Accepting A Compliment