Predatory students who use flirting to intimidate and bully teachers have become such a common problem in classrooms that staff need professional advice throughout their careers on how to tackle the situation, according to a new book. Extra training, including role playing on how to deal with students who genuinely believe they are in love, is also needed to help teachers avoid malicious and false allegations of sexual abuse. Jonathan Dunning-Davies was 25 last year when he was accused by a year-old girl of fondling her breast after an unruly class in which foul language among students had been routine.
Acquitted last March after a minute hearing at Hull Crown Court, he blames the school, not the teacher training system, for failing to give him basic training that might have helped. Myers, who is also a senior associate of the Learning Network at the University of Cambridge, found that both male and female teachers reported being embarrassed, undermined and humiliated by students.
She heard of teachers being forced to endure sexually intimidating behaviour through obscene phone calls, text messages, s and letters, as well as comments about their bodies and sex lives and obscene gestures. Older male pupils know the power situation with female teachers is not straightforward and that acting as protectors towards their female teachers can make the teacher potentially vulnerable.
Flirting by a student can be the result of a genuine infatuation, practising his or her sexuality, or be far more disturbing and calculated. There are no statistics as to how often teachers report being targeted by unwanted advances from students, but a poll by the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers last year found that, while allegations of sexual abuse had been made against 1, teachers in the past decade, just 69 were convicted.
There is also evidence that the of false allegations is growing, with made in compared with 44 in In England, extensive guidance as to how to deal with classroom discipline is provided by the Department for Education and Skills and the Council of Local Education Authorities. Most LEAs now have a code of conduct for staff in schools, but David James, professional standards manager with the General Teaching Council, admits that the advice in the codes is generalised and illustrative.
Keates, however, believes there needs to be far more practical and prescriptive information for teachers on how to deal with flirting by students.
The amendment of the Sexual Offences Act last year made it a criminal offence for a teacher to have sexual relations with a pupil, but Myers believes it is wrongly assumed that, because of their age, authority and experience, teachers always hold the power in teacher-student relationships. By not confronting and addressing these issues, educators are culpable of condoning behaviours that are not considered acceptable elsewhere in society,' she said.
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Amelia Hilleducation correspondent. Reuse this content.