A Miami teacher was arrested this week for engaging in sexual acts with a student.
Oh wait, there’s another one in Palo Alto, Tampa Bay, Rogue River, Forestville, Las Vegas, Santa Monica and Provo. These are cases that made newspapers just in the past two weeks.
The number of cases of teachers having improper contact with students is growing by leaps and bounds.
According to an article last year in The Washington Post: “In 2014 alone, there were 781 reported cases of teachers and other school employees accused or convicted of sexual relationships with students.”
The article also states, “In Texas, home to the largest number of teacher sexual misconduct cases in the country, investigations into alleged inappropriate teacher-student relationships has grown 27 percent over the past three years, to 179.”
What can parents and community leaders do to stop this?
Well, the first step would be to take away electronic gizmos. Most of these reports include things like “the teacher and student began texting each other” or “they were sending private messages over social media.”
If teens didn’t have smart phones, then this easy access would be eliminated. Or, do like a friend of mine and require that the cell phone is available to her for inspection at any time. She reads her child’s text messages and sees what is being shared on Instagram.
But parents won’t do that because they want to be friends with their children instead of parents.
But that’s another column idea.
What can school and community leaders do to help?
Take a page from the NFL and require a three-year rule on hiring college students.
No matter how great a high school football player is, the NFL will not allow young men to go straight from the prep fields to pro stadiums. The players must be three years removed from high school. This gives their bodies time to mature, and for the young men to grow up some.
Sure, three years really isn’t long enough for these boys to mature, but the NFL can’t wait until they are 25 because athletes have a short shelf life.
Teachers, on the other hand, seldom teach until they are regular retirement age, so postponing their start time doesn’t have the same concern.
I just wrote a story on David Diamont retiring with 46 years as a teacher. Now that is some longevity. However, most teachers retire when they get 25-30 years in. If a person starts at 22 fresh out of college, that means retiring at 47. Does that seem right? I’m only three years away from 47, and I’ll still have another 20 years after that to reach full retirement at 67.
If we passed a three-year rule for teachers, then these rookies would be 25 or 26 when they enter schools. They can still retire after 25 years and be only 50 years old. That’s still a nice age to be retired.
And what difference will three years make? Possibly a lot.
I and probably a lot of others, too, thought the big issue with naughty teachers would be creepy middle-aged men. However, most of the time, that’s not the case. The teachers are usually under the age of 35 and often 25 or under, and a big portion of them are women, so there goes that stereotype.
In most of these cases, the teacher is single — and probably lonely and desperate.
I read in a college psych class that the majority of Americans marry someone they met either through their school, church or workplace.
When a person graduates college and is still single, then the opportunity to meet someone through school is gone. And by that time, the person also has looked all around the church and sussed out any potential suitors already. If no love connection has been made by this point, a relationship is unlikely.
That leaves the workplace. Only, school teachers spend their days surrounded by young, attractive, unmarried teens. This is a recipe for disaster.
But, if college graduates had to wait three years to enter a school, then that gives the young adults time to meet people their own age and see what it’s like to date as an adult, not some college fling. It’s healthy.
And perhaps more importantly, future teachers would get a chance to experience the real world.
Honestly, what can a 22-year-old rookie teacher tell children about what it’s like in the real world? He or she has never experienced it first-hand.
They don’t know what it’s like to buy a house or get downsized out of a job or balance work with a family.
It would seem to me that some of the best teachers would come from those who work in the private sector, then get into education because they are passionate about helping kids.
The NFL rule has worked well enough that the NBA has enacted a one-year rule and is considering bumping that up to two years.
If huge money-making corporations like the NFL and NBA see benefit in waiting to get potential stars in their leagues, then school districts should consider it, at least at the high school level.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.