In Florida and Other States, children are enrolled in public schools to receive a quality education by trained professionals. A public school should be a welcoming place that provides a safe educational haven for the students. While screenings, background checks, and required licensures can help schools keep out those with a criminal past and / or unqualified people, there are still teachers, assistants, and others who work in our public school who use the position of trust to abuse or neglect the very children who are entrused to them by parents in the community. A teacher, whether the teacher is male or female, should not engage in relations or sex with the students enrolled at the school. There are moral and ethical problems with such actions even if the student / child takes the position that the relationship was consensual. There is a purpose to the criminal laws in place for a particular State. Teachers are subject to the laws like the rest of the citizens of the State of Florida. Furthermore, a teacher has the added responsibility in his or her fiduciary position as an educator, a mentor, and in public schools a representative of the government.
In Jacksonville, Florida, a high school teacher recently made headlines in the Jacksonville Times Union Newspaper. Unfortunately, the news did not center around her teaching skills or the academic accomplishments of her students. It was reported that Danielle Elizabeth Reed, age 23, was arrested for the charges of sexual battery with a child older than 12 years old and younger than 18 years old. The teacher reportedly posed as a parent of another student when she visited the home of the victim. She was hired as an English teacher at Atlantic Coast High School in August 2011. Atlantic Coast is one of the newer high schools located in Duval County, Jacksonville, Florida. Of course, Ms. Reed will be entitled to representation by a Florida Criminal Law Attorney or the Public Defender. Evidence in cases of this nature may include the statements of the teacher, student, other students. Evidence may also consist of text messages, e-mails, and photographs. You can read more about this story at Duval County High School Teacher Arrested for Sexual Battery.
In many instances, there are warning signs that there may be an inappropriate / sexual relationship going in between the student and the teacher. Boundaries should be maintained as part of the parent – teacher dynamic. When boundaries are blurred or crossed, there is at least the perception of an impropriety and, in some cases, an inappropriate sexual relationship between the student and the teacher. Here are some questions or warning signs to be on the look out for:
Is the child spending an excessive amount of time with the teacher?
Does the teacher favor or spend time with one particular student?
Does the teacher have one to one alone time with the student on a frequent basis?
Is the teacher spending time with a particular student after school hours?
Is the teacher providing transportion, meals, or gifts to one particular student?
Has the child become secretive about his or her actions especially any that involve a teacher, coach, or other adult?
Is the teacher and student in constant contact via e-mail, text message, or mobile phone?
Has the teacher violated any school policies or procedures regarding the relationship or contact with the student?
It should be noted that most teachers are caring and educated individuals who devote their time and efforts beyond the call of duty to the students. When a teacher puts in that extra effort with a student or group of students, this does not mean that the teacher is a predator or taking advantage of the student; however, parents should be cognizant of proper boundaries and the warning signs when and if there is an inappropriate relationship going on.
The book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on School Injuries, Day Care Center Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can receive this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.