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I know a teacher is having an affair with a sixth form student. What should I do?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by StefanieMusic, May 23, 2009.

  1. I was recently made aware that one of my colleagues has been in a relationship with a sixth form student at the school we teach at and has been so for the last 18 months. She has just left school to do her A Levels, but was obviously still a student when this began.
    I confronted him about it and he did not deny it. He says he loves her and that it's never been physical (though I'm not sure whether I believe it...). I also know he has cheated on her and has allegedly also kissed her (younger) sister whom he tutors. All I know for sure is that there is a relationship and has been for some time.
    He says that it will probably end when she goes away to university, however, to make matters worse he has just got a new job in a sixth-form college. I'm not sure how healthy or good that will be as it seems there is a thing for younger girls in his care.
    What should I do though? I don't know if I can sit on this information so I would like to say something. What's the way of going about this? I don't really want to implicate myself or get too involved, I merely think what he's doing is wrong and that maybe he shouldn't work around teenaged girls. Is it poor form to write an anonymous letter to the school, or his next school? Or is it bad to say anything at all? I could ruin his career, but I feel he jeopardised his career when he started this relationship with her when she was 16.
    Please help! I'm new to the teaching profession and I'm only going by my gut feeling right now that what he's doing is wrong and needs to be sorted out by professionals and it needs to be investigated.
    Any advice would be welcomed!



     
  2. I was recently made aware that one of my colleagues has been in a relationship with a sixth form student at the school we teach at and has been so for the last 18 months. She has just left school to do her A Levels, but was obviously still a student when this began.
    I confronted him about it and he did not deny it. He says he loves her and that it's never been physical (though I'm not sure whether I believe it...). I also know he has cheated on her and has allegedly also kissed her (younger) sister whom he tutors. All I know for sure is that there is a relationship and has been for some time.
    He says that it will probably end when she goes away to university, however, to make matters worse he has just got a new job in a sixth-form college. I'm not sure how healthy or good that will be as it seems there is a thing for younger girls in his care.
    What should I do though? I don't know if I can sit on this information so I would like to say something. What's the way of going about this? I don't really want to implicate myself or get too involved, I merely think what he's doing is wrong and that maybe he shouldn't work around teenaged girls. Is it poor form to write an anonymous letter to the school, or his next school? Or is it bad to say anything at all? I could ruin his career, but I feel he jeopardised his career when he started this relationship with her when she was 16.
    Please help! I'm new to the teaching profession and I'm only going by my gut feeling right now that what he's doing is wrong and needs to be sorted out by professionals and it needs to be investigated.
    Any advice would be welcomed!



     
  3. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    You really do not have a choice. You have to inform your headmaster ( at that level not below ) immediately. You have a duty of care towards the children in the school and you are in dereliction of this duty if you do not inform the relevant authorities.
    I have been through a little bit of what you are going through when I was in my third year of teaching. In that case it was a student dealing drugs, who had a glittering future ruined when he was sent to prison for 18 months. He was my advisee and I informed the headmaster when I heard rumours of his dealing. He called the police in and had his room searched and the rest is history.
     
  4. Take the sex out of the equation and re-examine it. eg, You know, and he has admitted, 'helping' students in examinations; fiddling trip monies; 'borrowing' school equipment to keep at home.
    Now put the sex back into the equaition, and bring in all you know about child protection. Your colleague can argue that as this student is over the age of consent, it's all OK. However he is in a position of authority and trust and he has abused it at least twice. If you felt like talking to him, you could ask if the student's parents know and how they might react if they did.
    To me his actions speak of a sexual predator who can't cope with grown-up women. For your own protection, discuss with your union how to go about reporting him.
     
  5. It most definitely is something to worry about, and it does only involve male teachers. In my time I have known two men and two women who had inappropriate relationships with pupils. Only one of these had done something for which she could be prosecuted - and was.
    Wossy started going out with his wife Jane Goldman when she was 16. Wyman started 'dating' (nice euphemism) Mandy Smith when she was 13.
     
  6.  
  7. The term "paedophile" is being treated as a vague term nowadays and i'm convinced it's a problem. What is paedophilia?
    Definition 1: Sexual attraction to a child [original, as seen when considering the greek roots]
    Definition 2: Sexual activity with anyone under 16 (or possibly 18) [legal]
    Definition 3: Sexual attraction to anyone under 16/18 [Daily Mail]

    Personally, I distinguish between paedophilia (sexual attraction OR activity to a child; a prepubescent) and ephebophilia (sexual attraction/activity to mid-to-late adolescents).

    What the OP is describing is Ephebophilia, which our society deems problematic in and of itself, and certainly unacceptable in cases of the elder having a position of authority over the younger (teacher, priest, doctor), as in this case.
    Yes, it's bad, and, yes, it needs dealing with (asap, btw, because this man is taking advantage of a position of power, and this might constitute abuse).
    But adolescence isn't black and white. Ages of consent vary from country to country, but basically run the gamut from beginning-of-adolescence to just-after-end-of-adolescence. And I don't see the benefit of getting hysterical and tarring this with the same brush as sex with a five-year-old.
    Oh, and to try to make the OP feel that but not being immediately certain what to do (and seeking advice) she is "tacitly accepting" paedophilia within her workplace is just plain mean.
     
  8. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    It is not the seeking of advice which is the issue, it is not doing anything about it.
    You can dress it up any way you like, give it any name you wish, make it a relatively acceptable act in relation to sex with a five year old ( however distasteful and crass that analogy may be ). However it doesn't alter what has happened: that a teacher has initiated a relationship with a pupil and has also initiated one with her younger sister ( age not given ).
    Ages of consent may vary from country to country, however the OP is in the UK and irrespective of the country, most people are not really all that ok with staff student relationships.
    Whether you like it or not, seeing a potential act of abuse occuring and not doing anything about it is a tacit acceptance of it. You may find it morally repugnant, however not so morally repugnant that your primary duty of care to the children is superceded by your duty of care to yourself and your career.
     
  9. Seems to me, that it's a reasonably straightforward situation. The guy has admitted (or not denied) the truth of the allegation. The 'kissing' incident with the younger sibling is, I believe, heresay. Your duty is to report the matter to whoever is responsible for CP in school - your (and our) personal beliefs about the rights and wrongs of the situation don't come into it. It is up to the Head and CP Officer to deal with the issue; they have the training to do so. Let your colleague defend himself.
     
  10. A relationship with a pupil under 18 is against the law. So if the relationship is 18 months old then she must have been under 18. So he broke the law. Straightforward. Report him.

    I used to work with young people in youth work type role. Whenever you had any suspicions at all, you passed them on to your manager. Then its no longer your responsibility. I have carried the same idea into teaching - report everything safeguarding related, even if you are not sure, because then if something does happen, you are covered.
     
  11. Sorry, sexual relationship is against the law. But I would think any sort of relationship with an existing student would get him sacked??

    Write down exactly what he said, and take it to CP officer or HT.
     
  12. You have a duty of care towards these students and you must report this immediately.
     
  13. Even if he isn't doing it now, he has abused a position of trust and he cannot realistically expect to get away with this. Regardless of what action is taken you do still need to inform the higher ups (headmaster or head of cp) as at the least he will have a warning and at most be taken to court - it is up to them.
    Over 16s are a grey area but abusing a position of authority/trust still needs to be alerted to.
    Additionally, he appears to not be concerned about this by saying it will probably end at Universit. I would wonder if she knows he thinks this (thinking about 16-18 year old girls would it break her heart?).
    You need to report it, for your own safety as well as if this came out in another way he might say "Well so-and-so knew all about it." and he took the risk not you.
     
  14. You are totally right. And so is Karvol. I know people who ten years later are still picking up the pieces of this sort of carry on, still asking "how could he do this to me", and my god, I wish somebody had stepped in when we were at school, but it was all turn a blind eye. A teacher going out with a student is wrong. It doesn't have to be sexual for abuse to take place. And there is something very wrong with any man or woman who uses their students to impress their own sexual problems onto.
    A friend recently told me that she went round a female teachers HOUSE at 16 and there was sexual talk. Then once this teacher had lived out her "bi" fantasies, she dropped my friend like a hot brick. She's still upset about it and confused to this day, as well as feeling sexually confused about a grown woman impressing her own sexual frustrations onto her at a time when my friend had no idea about her own sexuality.
    Another friend had a relationship with a teacher in sixth form at 18. Obviously the focus was then not her A levels. I didn't found out until 2 years later because he told her not to tell any of her friends. The pressure, the secrecy, the fact that the teacher impressed onto her the fact that what "they" were doing was wrong, and all of the guilt, manifested itself in him just deciding that it was all too much to bear and at 20, just leaving her. How do you ever just get back to normal when your formative years have been taken up by one person who is in control, who then can't stand the heat anymore, and you're left high and dry?
    If you've ever written a diary when you're 16, 17, then gone back to read it as an adult, it's cringeworthy looking back at how emotionally immature you were and how you hadn't got a bloody clue. Not a clue. I hope you reported him. The girls will thank you in the long run.
     
  15. wildorchid1804

    wildorchid1804 New commenter

    What if you tell the head and he/she chooses to do nothing?
    What if you find yourself a target for all sorts because you snitched?
    How wiiling are you to jeopardise your own career?
    Satisfaction at reporting a wrong doer vs. constant derision from SMT?

    This situation occurred when a colleague reported a similar incident. Trouble is, he couldn't prove that SMTs actions were linked to him 'snitching'!

     
  16. wildorchid1804

    wildorchid1804 New commenter

    I think I'd go for an anonymous letter to the child protection officer at your school.
     
  17. There's no 'grey area'; Safeguarding legislation protects children and young people from the ages of 0 - 19 from being abused by those in positions of trust. 'Grooming' doesn't just refer to a dirty old man luring a young child into his clutches, but also describes the steps the OP's colleague has taken to justify his actions and make them seem 'acceptable': he loves this young person, there's been no physical contact, etc.

    This needs to be reported immediately to the establishment's "named person" responsible for Safeguarding. What happens if the next person he 'falls in love with' is 15? 14? 12?
     
  18. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    Didn't the Home Office announce earlier this year that teachers and people in positions of trust would not face prosecution for relationships with 18 year old students?
    A relationship with an 18 year old student is a matter for the school (which may decide you have brought your employers into disrepute, or abused a position of trust and so sack you or report you to the GTCE) but it is not a police matter.
    Relationships with 16 and 17 year olds, now that is a criminal matter, but 18 year olds are more a moral matter than a criminal one.
     
  19. Sorry I should have explained what I meant - it's a grey area as sometimes the student comes out and declares that they know what they are doing and gave consent etc.
    My apologies, I wasn't talking about the legislation.

     
  20. As most people have said, you do have a duty of care to the students and if you know this is happening then someone more senior does need to know.
    I would suggest contacting your union to get further clarification on how to do this the proper way, however most schools or LEAs should now have a 'Whistleblowing' policy in place. Check to see if your school has one first and if they don't, consult the union asap!
     

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