Is the era of deferential treatment that protects women sex offenders from going to jail finally coming to an end?
(Reuters) – Barbara Goldberg reports: A “Saturday Night Live” skit about a male student having sex with his female high school teacher painted the relationship as every teen boy’s dream, but drew a firestorm of criticism on social media.
“Law enforcement is increasingly feminized, and women are much less prone to the old attitude: ‘Oh, this is just some kid who got lucky’. They recognize the issues involved and they go after women who violate the statutes.”
— David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center
The reaction to the comedy sketch reflected a growing view among law enforcement and victims’ advocacy groups that it is no laughing matter when a woman educator preys on her male students.
The crackdown is the result of ‘two seismic shifts’, says Christopher Anderson, executive director of Male Survivor, the largest U.S. advocacy organization for male sex-crime victims.
“One is a recognition that it does not matter who the perpetrator is or what the circumstances are. A teacher has absolutely no business engaging in sexual contact with a student…”
In U.S. schools last year, almost 800 school employees were prosecuted for sexual assault, nearly a third of them women. The proportion of women facing charges seems to be higher than in years past, when female teachers often got a pass, said Terry Abbott, a former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education, who tracked the cases.
“…The second is a shift in the culture where boys and their parents are feeling empowered to come forward to say that something has been done.”
— Christopher Anderson
This year’s numbers are already slightly ahead of last year with 26 cases of female school employees accused of inappropriate relationships with male students in January compared to 19 cases the previous January.
“There are contrary examples, such as Pennsylvania’s Erica Ann Ginnetti, 35, the Lower Moreland High School math teacher who had sex with a 17-year-old student and was sentenced to 30 days in jail by a male judge who said, ‘What young man would not jump on that candy?'”
Female educators who sexually abuse their students are facing tougher prosecution in part because there are more women police officers. There is also a greater awareness among prosecutors, judges and the general public that students who are victimized by an authority figure, regardless of gender, experience trauma with life-long consequences.
“Social media enables the behavior to start. There is no way that a teacher is going to walk up to a kid in the hallway and say, ‘Hey, would you like to see a naked picture of me?’ They won’t do it. But they will do that on social media. It’s like it erases what used to be that barrier.”
— Terry Abbott, a former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education
“Law enforcement is increasingly feminized, and women are much less prone to the old attitude: ‘Oh, this is just some kid who got lucky,'” said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center. “They recognize the issues involved and they go after women who violate the statutes.”
Depression, low-self esteem and difficulty maintaining future relationships are among the long-term consequences that male victims face, according to experts. Those problems are sometimes compounded by confusion and guilt over whether they are actually victims since their adolescent bodies involuntarily respond to physical contact. Read the rest of this entry »