Social Media And Texting: Common Ingredients For Illegal Adult/Child Relationships

A Maryland high school teacher/lacrosse coach was arrested by police for sexual abuse of a minor.

According to county police, the 26-year-old teacher "engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a female student."

The investigation started when police found evidence that the teacher/coach had an inappropriate relationship dating back to December 2019, when the student was 16. Investigators of the case analyzed almost 69,000 text messages between the two. They determined that they were in regular contact before and after school, and throughout the school day.

According to investigators, they are not aware of any other victims. "Police charge high school teacher with sex abuse of student" (Sep. 03, 2020).

Commentary and Checklist

According to a study conducted by SESAME (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation, in 2015 alone, under 500 educators were arrested.

The study stated further that, of children in 8th through 11th grade, approximately 3.5 million students or nearly seven percent surveyed reported that they have had physical sexual contact from an adult (most often a teacher or coach). The type of physical contact ranged from unwanted touching of their body, all the way up to sexual intercourse.

The number increased to about 4.5 million children or 10 percent when it takes other types of sexual misconduct into consideration, including being shown pornography, exhibitionism, or being subjected to sexually explicit language or exhibitionism. In Texas, for example, there was a 249 percent increase in inappropriate relationships from 2008 to 2018.

Social media plays a large role in inappropriate teacher-student relationships. In this case, electronic messaging seemed to be the main communication tool used by both teacher and student.

Schools take all necessary precautions to prevent inappropriate student-teacher relationships from developing. Here are some ways to protect students from teachers, coaches, or other staff who are sex offenders:

  • Train everyone in the school workplace that any sexual contact with a minor is child sexual abuse which is a crime. This behavior will not be tolerated and will be reported.
  • Those who work with children are mandatory reporters. They must immediately report suspected child sexual abuse to local law enforcement or to the local child protection. This is a personal duty that cannot be delegated to the employer.
  • Everyone should be vigilant as to the behaviors of everyone in the school community.
  • Prohibit one-on-one, private interactions between adults and children. If private conversations must take place, they must be done in a location that would permit anyone to observe the conduct or interject themselves without notice.
  • Specify what types of communication are appropriate. Forbid digital communications that do not include the parent of a student.
  • Prohibit employees from showing favoritism, including providing gifts to, or spending more time with, a student or certain students.
  • Do not allow teachers or other adults working in the classroom to lock the classroom door. If possible, install classroom doors with windows so that passersby can see into the classroom at all times. Consider an "open access" policy.
  • Landscape the school so that all areas are visible and there are no concealed places where perpetrators could carry out abuse.
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