Whether you read Britain’s Daily Mail, Australia’s Daily Telegraph or any North American newspaper, you can’t escape the reality that students are no longer safe in their classrooms.
An Associated Press study identified 2,570 teachers who had lost their teaching credentials between 2001 and 2005 for sexual misconduct. In another study the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation estimated that between 1991 and 2000, 290,000 students had experienced some type of physical sexual abuse.
You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the AP study confirmed that of the teachers who had their licenses revoked only 10% were women, however, you wouldn’t know that from the media coverage. The stories that hit the press focus on younger, attractive female teachers.
So, why would a mature professional woman, often married, ruin her career, her life and her family’s life to sleep with a 16-year old boy?
I have a number of theories:
1. The Cougar Effect
Today’s society has glamourized the notion of an older woman with a younger man. Courtney Cox’s TV show “Cougar Town” featuring Courtney as a 40-something divorcee, is the tip of a trend that saturates the media. After all, what could be wrong with a teenage boy having an affair with an experienced older woman?
2. We Fell in Love
The most infamous teacher/student case is that of teacher, wife and mother, Mary Kay Letourneau, then 34-years old and her 13-year old student, Vili Fualaau, both from Washington State. She was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation for having sex with her young student. Her sentence was more lenient because she agreed she would no longer see Vili, however, shortly after she finished her six-month term, she was found having sexual relations with him in a car.
She then served seven years in prison, giving birth to their two children, conceived when she was out of jail. Upon her release Mary Kay and Vili married, selling the photos to Entertainment Weekly for $750,000. She also wrote a book about her story which was published in France.
Interestingly, her father John Schmitz, who was a California Senator and U.S. Congressman, saw his political career flounder after it was discovered that he had carried on an affair and had two children out-of-wedlock. Her parents separated after the news broke, but later reconciled.
Part 2 of this post will be published tomorrow.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang