Saturday, December 12, 2009

Legal Victimization

I'm scratching my head trying to figure out why anyone would think that something like this would be okay. If this was your daughter (or son), would you support her/his sexual relationship with her/his TEACHER????? Below is a Blog that I wrote for Time's Up Blog. Some of the comments in response to the post truly sadden me. Whether or not a student is a "hottie" does not make it okay. AND whether or not the law says that a 16-year-old is old enough to decide whether or not a teacher can have sex with them DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT! ... Please read and share with me what I might be missing.

Happy Parenting,

This post was written for the Time's Up Blog ( which is a collection of bloggers who are champions for victims of crime. The purpose of the blog is to bring awareness to the injustices to victims and to search out solutions with an SOS to those in the capacity to make changes happen.

Today in the metro Atlanta area, former Marietta High School teacher, Christopher King, was acquitted of sexual assault. The charges stem from the discovery that he had been having inappropriate interactions with a female student. Since he openly admitted that those interactions were “sexual” you would think that this would be an easy conviction, right? However, the problem is that his 17-year-old victim took the stand in defense of her former teacher who she described as her “boyfriend.” His lawyer told jurors that the two “were in love,” and although "This may be a bad idea…it's not illegal." This attorney’s argument was bolstered in June when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that, when a student is a willing participant and is 16 or older, the student's consent can be a defense for teachers facing a sexual assault charge. The presiding judge by-passed the jury and rendered his verdict this afternoon, saying "It's gross, it's awful, but it ain't illegal…This was a consensual relationship." So with that…Christopher King was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Really? Is a 17-year-old able to consent to a sexual “relationship” with a nearly forty-year-old man? In the dictionary, an adolescent is defined as: A young person who has undergone puberty but who has not reached full maturity. Therefore, how can it be that there is such a law that blatantly ignores the fact that, by definition, an adolescent is not equipped with the emotional maturity to understand the ramifications and consequences of adult behaviors? Adolescents and children are inherently trusting of authority figures, and are na├»ve and easily mislead. This is one of the reasons why pedophiles are able to commit their crimes. In this case, King’s former student told a courtroom full of people that he began calling her about non-school related issues. Later, the two went shopping, out to dinner, and the movies. She said she believed that they were doing the “things dating couple do.” "It evolved the way I assume any sexual encounter does," she said. Clearly, Christopher King took advantage of his position of power as well as the childlike immaturity of his 17-year-old victim. Yes I said it…VICTIM! In essence, she was groomed to believe that they had a relationship. Romanticizing this as love and anything positive is sickening. Point blank.

In this case, the victim’s father became alarmed by King’s phone calls to his daughter. However, she told him that he was overreacting. As an educator, I can assure you that EVERY school employee is aware of the appropriate code of conduct regarding students. Sometimes parents might feel uncomfortable with the attention that a teacher is giving to their son or daughter, but may not know how to handle the situation. Here are some clear cut No-No’s.

· Contact students for personal issues (ie. “Just to say Hi.”).
· Text students.
· Discuss personal information with students (ie. Issues related to marital problems, family issues etc.)
· Make plans with a student to have dinner or go to a movie.
· Videotape or record a student without expressed consent from the parent.
· Make any comments of a sexual or suggestive nature.
· Have sex with a student.
· Serve alcohol to a student.

So, what should you do if you notice any of these things? First, talk to your son or daughter to try and find out what has happened. Next, IMMEDIATLEY report your concerns to the building administrator and to the proper authorities for a thorough investigation. Have copies of text messages, emails, and pictures to share as evidence if you have them. Also remember that your son or daughter may try to conceal the “relationship” by denying that anything inappropriate is occurring. They may be defensive, and even angry with you for asking questions.

Regardless of the state Laws, any sound minded adult knows that it is immoral, unethical, deplorable…and YES criminal to take advantage of a child. I hope that we will all take a closer look at the laws that directly affect our children and adolescents because some offenders are taking advantage of a legal loophole, and are able to walk away totally free…Legally.

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