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#1
Old 02-18-2008, 09:32 PM
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Teachers dating students - Against the law?

Can teachers date and have sex with their students if the student is of age? For example can a high school teacher in Illinois date and have sex with a 17 year old girl in his class? What if she is not his student, but attends the school he teaches at? What if he had her as a student, but recently left the school? What if he was a substitute? Or is all of this just a matter where he can be fired?
#2
Old 02-18-2008, 10:14 PM
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My guess is that any situation where one of the would-be lovers has legal authority (or is in a position of trust, for example a doctor's authority) over the other is forbidden. Teacher/student, boss/worker, therapist/client, sergeant/trooper, priest/parishioner, lawyer/client. In all of these situations, the two can't meet as equals.

So the teacher would have to wait until the student was out of the school in question. And not just out of the particular class the teacher is teaching, either; I asked this question in another thread, and apparently all teachers in a school are in authority collectively over all students.

This is assuming both teacher and student are otherwise adults and able to make their own decisions. People below the age of consent are by definition not able to meet adults as legal equals (though of course this varies all over the map according to jurisdiction).
#3
Old 02-18-2008, 10:18 PM
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It's about firing, and (if the person is a minor), about sex with a minor.

Generally speaking, the school or school system has a policy that states that romantic/sexual relationships are not allowed. One could also argue that the school serves in loco parentis, which I'm pretty sure is true even if the the student is of age. 17 is not "of age" in the US.

In colleges and universities, these days there is typically a policy that states that a staff or faculty member may not enter into a romantic/sexual relationship either with a person over whom the staff member has evaluative power. This is often true even if the person is a substitute, adjunct, or teaching assistant.

Edit: There may also be a statement to the effect that some amount of time has to pass before any other kind of relationship can even be discussed. Ex-teachers still have evaluative power (for example, they can write you an inappropriately glowing college or job letter, or refuse to do so if you break their heart).

Last edited by susan; 02-18-2008 at 10:21 PM.
#4
Old 02-18-2008, 10:20 PM
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I doubt a teacher-student relationship per se is against the law. It's definitely against school policy though, and will get the teacher fired. (Some universities say it's okay as long as the student is not in the teacher's class, or their advisee, or in any other position where the teacher has direct authority over the student, but I doubt any high schools will have this much leeway in their policies.)
#5
Old 02-18-2008, 10:21 PM
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Such conduct is illegal in Texas:

Quote:
21.12. IMPROPER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EDUCATOR AND
STUDENT. (a) An employee of a public or private primary or
secondary school commits an offense if the employee engages in:
(1) sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate
sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled in a public or
private primary or secondary school at which the employee works and
who is not the employee's spouse; or
(2) conduct described by Section 33.021, with a person
described by Subdivision (1), regardless of the age of that person.
(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the second
degree.
(c) If conduct constituting an offense under this section
also constitutes an offense under another section of this code, the
actor may be prosecuted under either section or both sections.
(d) The name of a person who is enrolled in a public or
private primary or secondary school and involved in an improper
relationship with an educator as provided by Subsection (a) may not
be released to the public and is not public information under
Chapter 552, Government Code.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 224, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 610, 1, eff. September 1,
2007.
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 772, 1, eff. September 1,
2007.
from the Texas Penal Code
#6
Old 02-18-2008, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susan
17 is not "of age" in the US.

sure it is, each state has their own rules regarding age of consent, while 18 goes for all 50 states many have lower ages with differing rules.

here in Washington AoC is 16 but as posted already, not if you are in a position of authority over the minor. so while I can legally have sex with 16 year old girls I cant with my students because I am their teacher. same goes for the boss/guardian/whatever has some power over the minor in question.

Last edited by Critical1; 02-18-2008 at 11:10 PM.
#7
Old 02-18-2008, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
sure it is, each state has their own rules regarding age of consent, while 18 goes for all 50 states many have lower ages with differing rules.
Yes, I wasn't specific enough but the OP didn't specify either country or state so I was trying to answer more generally.
#8
Old 02-18-2008, 11:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susan
Yes, I wasn't specific enough but the OP didn't specify either country or state so I was trying to answer more generally.
From my OP:


Quote:
Illinois
#9
Old 02-19-2008, 12:45 AM
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Interesting Q. Especially since just in the last couple of days there have been very public court cases on the matter in Australia and New Zealand -- the two countries where I have taught. (Two cases in Queensland, one in my home town broke today. One undergoing lengthy trial in Auckland as we speak.)

The case in Brisbane exposed an inconsistency in that the legal position as stated by state laws was different from the position as stated by Education Queensland (a government organisation) policy. According to law, this particular teacher had done nothing wrong and hence was not able to be prosecuted. But he was sacked from his position and will (IMHO rightly) be never allowed to teach in Queensland again.

The case in NZ has boiled down to a conflict over whose version of events to believe. Which basically means that the teacher in question did whatever he did out of view of any other person. This is imprudent in the extreme. He has admitted to some actions that I would consider dodgy, but are not in themselves illegal. He has trespassed NZ teaching ethical standards. He has 7 students or former students crying foul. I would say that his goose is cooked. He won't teach again, and I would guess from what I have read that he will be convicted: not just of profession misconduct, but or criminal activity, and serve time.

So, to summarise, it does vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but professional standards for teachers are commonly set at a higher level; which means that a teacher is in trouble long before any laws are broken.

Last edited by j_sum1; 02-19-2008 at 12:45 AM.
#10
Old 02-19-2008, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Two and a Half Inches of Fun
From my OP:
Yes, I saw the words "For example ... Illinois." However, the rest of your question appeared to be more general. The title is "Teachers dating students - Against the law?" not "Teachers dating students in Illinois - Against the law?" so I was trying to answer more generally.
#11
Old 02-19-2008, 01:00 AM
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Quote:
States cracking down on teacher-student sex
Robert Tanner / Associated Press
Heeding a steady drumbeat of sexual misconduct cases involving teachers, at least 15 states are considering stronger oversight and tougher punishment for educators who take advantage of their students.

...

Some states are looking to increase penalties, expand background checks or broaden their ability to police charter schools for abuse, like Indiana, Massachusetts and Utah. Kentucky and South Carolina are considering making it illegal for teachers to have sex with older students.
http://detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll...OOLS/801280373

Quote:
Age of consent wouldn't matter in teacher-student sex
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2008 at 9:14 a.m.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Legislation that would make sex between teachers and students a crime even if the teen is legally old enough to consent has received key approval in the House.

The bill passed today says any high school employee or volunteer who has sex with a student under 19 years old can be charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, punishable by up to ten years in prison.

The legal age of consent in South Carolina is 16.
http://wach.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=91294
#12
Old 02-19-2008, 07:06 AM
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FWIW, There are specific laws against it in the UK.

If you're in a position of control or authority over a person you can't engage in romantic or sexual activity with them.

It still happens of course, sometimes it's more creepy than other times!
#13
Old 02-19-2008, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
The bill passed today says any high school employee or volunteer who has sex with a student under 19 years old can be charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, punishable by up to ten years in prison.
ok how the hell is this legal? age 18 is adult everywhere in the country? is it seriously possible to convict someone for consensual adult/adult sex?...oh wait, this is America, land of the sodomy is illegal in several states.
#14
Old 02-19-2008, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Critical1
ok how the hell is this legal? age 18 is adult everywhere in the country? is it seriously possible to convict someone for consensual adult/adult sex?...oh wait, this is America, land of the sodomy is illegal in several states.
Isn't it legal if the state legislature passes a law? I know it's strange, but the state government can do that.
#15
Old 02-19-2008, 02:59 PM
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This made me a little curious and so I checked Wiki.

The place with the highest age of consent in the world appears to be Madagascar where it is 21. It can be as low as 12 is some parts of Mexico. In Yemen it's 9, but you have to be married (are you fucking kidding me?)

Also per Wiki, if my calculations are correct, 24 U.S. States have an AoC below 18. It's 17 in five States, 16 in eighteen States and 14(!) in one State (Missouri).
#16
Old 02-19-2008, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Critical1
ok how the hell is this legal? age 18 is adult everywhere in the country? is it seriously possible to convict someone for consensual adult/adult sex?...oh wait, this is America, land of the sodomy is illegal in several states.
Didn't your supreme court invalidate the remaining sodomy laws a few years ago? cite
#17
Old 02-19-2008, 03:41 PM
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At the University I work at it is only forbidden if you have 'direct authority' which does include former students do to the reasons mentioned earlier. At the community college I teach at, the rules appear looser and it seems to only imply current students. At both schools the policy falls directly under the 'sexual harassment' language, meaning it could also be applied to students who know you are dating another student and feel uncomfortable about it. At the college level, I think they just treat it like they would in any work environment

I have never seen or heard about anyone getting in trouble for it, and I have seen plenty of it take place. I could say the same about when I was in the private sector too.
#18
Old 02-19-2008, 03:42 PM
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Colorado used to have a law that roughly said if a person is "in authority" over another person whether it is of age or not, it will be considered rape. That took in teacher/student, officer/enlisted person, guard/prisoner and even boss/employee. I heard it was being, or had been tested in the last few years and I haven't been following it, so it may well have changed.
#19
Old 02-19-2008, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Critical1
ok how the hell is this legal? age 18 is adult everywhere in the country? is it seriously possible to convict someone for consensual adult/adult sex?...oh wait, this is America, land of the sodomy is illegal in several states.
Prostitution is illegal in 48 states and the District of Columbia regardless of the age of the parties involved (though the penalties do get stricter if a minor's involved).
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#20
Old 02-19-2008, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
I doubt a teacher-student relationship per se is against the law. It's definitely against school policy though, and will get the teacher fired. (Some universities say it's okay as long as the student is not in the teacher's class, or their advisee, or in any other position where the teacher has direct authority over the student, but I doubt any high schools will have this much leeway in their policies.)
The parenthetical clause there is essential for a university, since many of the teachers will themselves be students. Most graduate students will teach at some point or another during their time as students, and many graduate students are in romantic relationships with other grads or undergrads. If no teacher at the university were allowed a relationship with any student at the university, then the life of graduate students would be even bleaker than it is now.

There are, however, still rules against romantic relationships with anyone over whom one has any control over grades. If there's already a relationship when the situation comes up, the parties involved are supposed to go through channels to declare a conflict of interest, and appropriate measures can be taken (the TA might be assigned to a different class, or another grader might take care of all of that student's material).
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#21
Old 02-19-2008, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by essell
FWIW, There are specific laws against it in the UK.

If you're in a position of control or authority over a person you can't engage in romantic or sexual activity with them.

It still happens of course, sometimes it's more creepy than other times!
Please can you quote these laws. (You suggest that a boss cannot marry a subordinate for example.)

As a teacher for 31 years, with students aged from 10-23, I have never been advised of any legal requirements about relationships with them apart from:

- under-age sex (illegal in any case)
- being fired by my employer (but not prosecuted)
#22
Old 02-20-2008, 06:16 AM
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Legal? After the student has graduated and moved on, maybe. Oprah had a show once about teachers who married students. The audience seemed very approving, but these teachers had insisted the students finish college before they would even date them. I think some corresponded and that sort of thing, but it was totally hands off. The students never wavered and despite a big age difference, they took it from there and it worked out.

But people may start to think a relationship was in progress even while she was in school, especially if she graduated from high school last month. Even if they couldn't fire a teacher for it, a school could probably start evaluating the teacher with a microscope and find something else, fire him/her for that.

A few other AoC remarks:

One brother, who was living in Texas, told me that his 17 y/o didn't come home one night. He figured she was out doing the nasty with her bf, so he called the cops. They said she was of legal age and they really couldn't do much about it. But he was responsible for her till she's 18, so they basically took the info and told him they wouldn't look for her but if she remained gone a few days to check back.

A different brother told me about a case in Illinois (my home state) where an older guy was involved in a sexual relationship with a young girl. He videotaped them (she knew he was doing it, consented) and showed it to friends. Having sex with her was legal because she met the AoC for that, but she didn't meet the AoC for a porn film. I suppose he could have watched the kinky film all he wanted but when he started showing it to others, that qualified as distribution. He's in prison now for child porn.
#23
Old 02-20-2008, 09:57 AM
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{ex teacher here - both High School and College}

IME, HS teachers do not date HS students. No exceptions. If you do and it is 'legal' you will still come under intense fire from the administrion and the community. You will get fired...and quickly.

My experience teaching college was in 'smaller' towns. Even there, dating a student (not one of yours) was extremely frowned upon. Dating ANY student, even if they were not in your class or were in any of your classes was frowned upon.

Since the college was the only one in a large geographic area, it tended to get most of the younger adults going there. This was one of the 2 main reasons for my leaving teaching...when I took the job I was seriously dating a woman that was from the area thinking we'd eventually get married. When we broke up, I was single in a rural area with most of the people of my prime dating age as students (either full or part time) attending the college. When I had a complaint lodged against me for just asking out* a 24 year old (I was 27) I started seriously looking at what I made and what the situation was and got out. When I was informed by my boss (Dean) that I did nothing wrong but that I shouldn't ask people out anymore (and he was very sorry and knew what he was asking of me) I definitely decided to leave teaching - the low salary and celibate/childless existance didn't seem to have much of an upside anymore...


* Nothing bad, just asking out and I didn't even know she was a student.

Last edited by BlinkingDuck; 02-20-2008 at 09:58 AM.
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