Nearly every day, as I comb through my soon-to-be-extinct Google Reader RSS feed, I come across a story about a teacher having an affair with one of their high school students. It’s practically commonplace news at this point. Today, I read about a 32-year-old science teacher in the Bronx who was impregnated by her 17-year-old student. Felicia Barahona, an Afghanistan War vet, was accused of having a four-month affair with the teenage boy, allegedly forcing him to have unprotected sex with her and dumping him shortly after she conceived. Sometimes these crazy teacher scandals don’t involve an outright student/teacher affair, but rather the blurring of sexual boundaries. Such was the case with Carly McKinney, who was suspended from a high school in Colorado back in January for posting a whole mess of inappropriate pictures on Twitter, some of which featured her in nothing but thong underwear.
As a former high school teacher, my first instinct is usually to scream What the fuck!? The Counter Pedophilia Investigative Unit (CPIU) estimates that 15 percent of students will be sexually abused by a member of the school staff in their school career and that between 1 and 5 percent of these abusers and harassers will be teachers. These statistics are staggering. When you become a teacher you take an unspoken oath to guard and protect. How is this reprehensible violation of power even possible? And how can we make it stop? I’ve found myself reflecting the why and how of it all quite a bit. In order to even begin to comprehend, I think first we must understand the context in which an increasing number of student/teacher scandals are occurring. Keep reading »