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  #1  
Old 04-08-2012, 04:10 PM
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Default The ethical and legal issues of the teacher/student relationship

If you aren't familar with the story before, the video should serve as a nice introduction to the situation.



However, whatever hold 41 year old James Hooker had over 18 year old Jamie Powers was broken Friday, when Hooker was arrested for sexual assault on a minor stemming from an incident 14 years ago.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nati...icle-1.1057855

In an interview with Good Morning America this Friday, the same platform with which she and Hooker first announced their love, Powers announced that she had ended the relationship between herself and Hooker when he was arrested for sexual assault. Police had begun investigating Hooker after he and Powers had announced their relationship on Good Morning America and Dr. Phil. Both Powers and Hooker claim and maintain that their relationship was purely platonic until Powers turned 18, and both maintain that stance following his arrest. However, Powers isn't in the forgiving mood otherwise.

Quote:
He called me from jail, and yes, I told him we're done. I lost everything for this guy. I lost my senior year. I gave up all my friends at high school because they didn't agree with me.
The language in and of itself is very ego-centric, but what do you expect from an 18 year old female? I say that not in criticism, per se, but in looking at the fact that most 18 year old males and females are focused on themselves, and not the bigger picture of things. After all, the argument could be made that Hooker left behind much more then Powers; Namely a wife, three children, and a teaching position at Enochs high school in Modesto, California. Between his teaching position and position he made upwards of $150,000 a year. It was at that position where he met Powers when she was just 14 years old. It is also at that school where his oldest daughter, 17, attends, and was just a year behind Powers.

When they announced their relationship just two months ago, the ire of a nation was raised. None moreso then that of Powers' mother Tammi, who confronted the couple face to face on Dr. Phil. Hooker defended the relationship to Tammi Powers, Dr. Phil, and the rest of the viewing audience with the following statement:

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This is actually my girlfriend. I don't look at her as just a student, I mean, we're sharing a life together. I know Ive made alot of people unhappy, mainly my family and hers, but sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith.
Hooker then turned towards Powers mother, noting that he hoped in time she'ld come to accept the relationship. Tammi fired back that she would never accept the relationship, and she put action behind her words.

Following learning of the relationship, Tammi took action, taking her frustration to California legislature. Upon finding that no legal action could be taken within California law due to the age of consent being 18, and with no direct evidence linking definitively otherwise(other then text messages that seemed to be of a teacher-student relationship, however inappropriate), she began working with California Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen on a bill that would prevent any student/teacher relationships within the high school environment, even if the student was 18. Punishment would involve stripping school employees of their pensions and retiree health care if they are convicted. Olsen said the following of the bill, which was submitted to proposed legislation last week in Modesto, California.:

Quote:
This (bill) would prevent teachers from grooming students for relationships once they became adults. The bill would also forbid suggestive communication such as sexual text messages.
It would be easy for one to look at this case and simply point to this case in voicing support of this bill. Powers and Hooker may be telling the truth that nothing physical happened before she turned 18, but when were the seeds planted? I'd guess before she turned 18. Sure, they followed the letter of the law, but the spirit of it? Not so much. Further, with evidence arising that he engaged in oral copulation(oral sex) with a minor 14 years ago, and it's easy to label him as someone who preys on underage girls. (which is probably a fair assessment) However......

If the student decides, independently, upon turning 18 that they wish to engage in a sexual relationship with their teacher, should they be allowed?

Should there be laws or rules across the board regarding students and teachers getting involved while they're teacher/student? When I say this, I'm referring to college, graduate school, and so forth.

Thoughts on the story in general? Voice them here.
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:29 PM
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I am a very open-minded person. But as a grown man and a teacher, you can't date your students. This just leads to a whole mess of drama that you do not need in a learning environment like a classroom. Lets say a Single, middle aged male wishes to engage in a 18 year old female that wishes to do the same. Not only do you get the drama that comes from a relationship that stems from an older man dating a younger woman. But you also get drama from the other girls in the class that will insult both the teacher and the young girl. Then you get guys who are still budding with hormones trying to get the affection for the girls. It will become a giant mess. Which is one of the many reasons why so many workplaces either forbid or frown upon relationships in the work place. You don't need to bring your relationships to place where you come to learn or come to work.

However, I don't see the problem if the 18 year old girl has already graduated.
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Old 04-08-2012, 05:53 PM
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In high school I'm pretty sure that is a clear no. If it happens during that time, and if it happens after, sure it's not illegal once they are 18 but anyone who is going to get with a guy 4 years later I mean it's all gross going down that route. He's looking at 14 year olds, I don't care you wait until it's 18, you are just an even crazier and cerebral version of a child molester.

College it starts to get more complicated, I'm pretty sure it isn't allowed. I mean in graduate school, I could careles by that point you are dealing with all people over 22 for the most part and oddly I have a lot more younger college professors than I did high school teachers. So if it happens between two individuals where the teacher isn't teaching them that's fine. Yet, like any work setting once one has a direct influence over the other in a classroom it's subject to scrutiny.

All I know is if it happens here, in one of my classes, if I find out a girl is dating a teacher I'm flipping and I'm not stopping. Whether its while the class going on or they get together after, I will make sure that's all reviewed and if I don't like the grade it's getting scratched off my transcript. I mean if one of my teachers is eyeing a bitch that would get to me, we all know teachers you get good grades from you tend to like better.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:33 AM
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College it starts to get more complicated, I'm pretty sure it isn't allowed.
It isn't, but at that point it's more a matter of school policy than the considerations of corrupting the morals of a minor. For one thing, if the student pulls an "A" in the class he/she takes with the professor, ethics might be called into question. but at least we aren't talking about kiddie porn.

The point is, if you're a teacher......who needs it? Who needs the trouble and suspicion involved? There are plenty of fish in the sea; why in hell does a teacher have to pick a student to get involved with? Why risk everything you have? Why take a chance on ruining the life of your student as well as your own?

Putting it another way: why would a 40-year-old teacher have enough in common with a 14-year-old student to form a relationship, even if it's platonic until she becomes 18? (yeah, right). That she was able to sustain interest in the guy makes one think she was more mature than he was; 14-year-olds are notoriously flighty in their attention spans. What he found exciting about her was obvious, but while he makes casual mention of hurting both their families, he justifies the whole thing by speaking of taking a "leap of faith." Oy!

Incidentally, it's good that nothing about this case suggests she was a minor who "didn't know what she was doing." Too often in these instances, society looks at an 18-year-old who gets involved with an older person the same as a 6-year-old, but it isn't so and this case isn't reflecting anything like that. It isn't a question of him "leading her astray" and it shouldn't be.

But in a cultural sense, that two people of such disparate ages would find enough in common to form a relationship for life seems ridiculous. Still, if it isn't a teacher-student deal, there's nothing stopping them except their families. Sometimes it works out, usually it doesn't.

But for teacher-student, there has to be a policy line drawn. Society can't punish the student, but at least it can tell the teacher he can't practice his profession anymore, at least not in his current job. If he wants to influence the lives of his students, let him do it in a classroom setting, not a personal one outside of school. The vast majority of teachers know and respect this line but it's the few that don't who make it front-page news.
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:19 PM
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A teacher and a lover play two very separate roles. A teacher is supposed to be a figure of authority, honor, and education. Theyre supposed to be readying a student for the future, not trying to engage in a relationship. Its not about trying to regulate the sex life of someone who is over the age of consent, the problem lies in how moral and ethical a student/teacher relationship is. It distracts from the learning process and gives the student an advantage over their peers. Lets be real folks, that girl is his sex toy, plain and simple. A 18 year old girl has nothing in common is a 41 year old man, dont give me that 'age is just a number bullshit'. You dont know how much one year of life can change a person. A middle aged man and a teenage girl have completely different priorities, interests, etc. Men like these are predators. They play mental gymnastics with these girls and groom them for a relationship. That means that this man was more focused with getting this girl's attention than with teaching her something significant in class. Its social suicide. Its not the way a relationship works. Any middle aged man whos trying to date someone who could be their child (age wise) is a sick pervert. What more do I need to say?
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:25 AM
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I guess it depends on the age difference. I'm in the IT department for a School district so I interact with students and teachers daily and I can say I know of atleast 2 teachers in my district that are having relations with students.(they're not in their classes anymore so I guess you can't say "Their students") Of course both of these Teachers are very young, the one is 26 I believe and the other if I had to guess would be in his mid 20s as well. So the age difference isn't that big of deal. So in these guys instances I can see how they could date a student because they are so close together age wise, but when you're 50 and dating an 18 year Old I just think that is kinda wrong.
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:46 AM
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I believe some people in this thread are being too hard on the teacher. Don't get me wrong, I have serious problems with his ethics, but every student/teacher relationship is different. There are many students I've had over the years that will say hardly a word to me as they pass me in the halls, but there are FAR more students who will always stop and say hi, or come find me to talk to me, or make their way over to chat if they see me in public. With every student I've ever had, I've had a different relationship with them, some much stronger than others.

When a person, any person, develops a strong relationship with another, and the other person is of the opposite sex, it's only natural that romantic feelings can evolve. And it's not like the teacher can avoid the situation, you have to see the student every day in class. No, you don't have to send text messages, but you still see that person every day in class, and this teacher would have to interact with her every day in class. She is legally an adult, and let's face it, our society is fascinated with young women. There's a reason models, TV and movie stars, celebrities, etc. are usually younger women. They are in the prime of the life, in terms of pure beauty, and we as a society (both men and women) are attracted to younger women.

This girl was 18, legally an adult, in the prime of her life in terms of looks, and spent every day with this teacher. So many people seem to think teachers are not human beings, that we should be perfect and completely different from all other human beings, but it's just not the case. Just as a boss runs off with a secretary because they grow feelings for each other, this teacher grew romantic feelings for this student. Teachers are people too. We have feelings, we have flaws, we have a desire for people to care about us, just like any other person.

This kind of thing happens and it can be difficult to resist. Fortunately, it's never really been an issue for me, since I've mostly taught younger students, but I can easily see why it would occur, especially if the teacher was not exceptionally tough mentally.

With that being said, it doesn't change the fact it should prevent him from ever teaching again, at least at a level where he can have romantic relationships with students. A romantic relationship with a student is a serious ethical violation (not even taking into account his marriage and children), and should never be tolerated. As teachers, you have a duty to be completely fair and impartial (though it can be difficult given the type of students you sometimes have to deal with), and when you're engaged in a romantic relationship, you can never be fair and impartial.

In the end, while I'm aware this particular teacher apparently has a history of doing this, I'm going to say cut him a little slack, as when you stop to think about it, it's really not difficult to see why it happens. In fact, I'm kind of surprised it doesn't happen more often. But that doesn't change the fact it IS wrong, and should not be allowed and the teacher should be forced to find other employment.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:00 AM
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But that doesn't change the fact it IS wrong, and should not be allowed and the teacher should be forced to find other employment.
While I agree that the teacher was wrong both ethically and according to the laws in most schools, it is a bit unfair that a 40-year old teacher who has a relationship with an adult student has to lose so much of his life, whereas any other 40-year old man in the same spot would go on with his life. I'm not saying that the teacher should be re-instated, just pointing out a societal gray area.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:08 AM
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While I agree that the teacher was wrong both ethically and according to the laws in most schools, it is a bit unfair that a 40-year old teacher who has a relationship with an adult student has to lose so much of his life, whereas any other 40-year old man in the same spot would go on with his life. I'm not saying that the teacher should be re-instated, just pointing out a societal gray area.
Completely untrue. In many jobs, a boss who has a sexual relationship with an employee will be terminated. In many jobs, a sexual relationship between coworkers could be grounds for dismissal. So if I'm a boss at 40 years of age, and I have an affair with an 18 year old secretary, in many jobs I would be fired.

When your actions have a direct and immediate negative impact on your ability to do your job, there should be repercussions.
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Old 04-20-2012, 02:20 PM
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Completely untrue. In many jobs, a boss who has a sexual relationship with an employee will be terminated. In many jobs, a sexual relationship between coworkers could be grounds for dismissal. So if I'm a boss at 40 years of age, and I have an affair with an 18 year old secretary, in many jobs I would be fired.

When your actions have a direct and immediate negative impact on your ability to do your job, there should be repercussions.
In addition to what Sly said, it's not just the fact that it's a teacher/student relationship, it's the position of authority. A student having an affair with a teacher, even if legally the student is an adult, can blackmail the teacher to receive good grades, or they expose the teacher, who might acquiesce because they would rather to that than risk the shame involved if other members of the faculty find out, their spouse finds out, etc. Conversely, a teacher can threaten to give the student a bad grade if they don't sleep with them. Someone always ends up having leverage over the other, and can exploit that leverage to manipulate the other into doing what they want. In any situation where one person in the sexual relationship has power/authority over the other, it's potentially a dangerous situation, regardless of whether they are both adults or not. I really doesn't matter if its a teacher/student or boss/employee relationship, the overall principle is the same.
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