the formation of some inappropriate teacher-student relationships (Laliberte ; Doerschner. ) the regular classroom teaching requirements. . Interestingly, more women than men seem to be making headlines for arrests these days. Teacher-student relationships differ from those between therapist and patient and the student continues to be dependent on the mentor's guidance and approval. found that 26 percent reported sexual involvement with women students. See also Exploring the Student-Teacher Relationship The yoga path is built on the guidelines of the yamas and niyamas—yoga's ethical and.
Feelings of admiration and respect may become intense and personal. When those feelings do occur, what do we do with them? Can we experience them comfortably and still maintain appropriate student-teacher boundaries? What are appropriate student teacher boundaries? Does it make a difference if the professional aspects of the relationship take place in the classroom, a laboratory, a clinical setting, or if they are of an administrative nature?
Does it make a difference whether it is the student or teacher who initiates an increasingly close relationship? How should one handle social or sexual overtures made by a student? What can we do, as individuals, as professions, and as institutions to help ensure that appropriate student-teacher boundaries are maintained?
This paper will explore these questions in light of recent concerns expressed about boundaries between professionals and clients, sexual harassment in the academic setting,8,9 and recent data suggesting a high frequency of sexual interaction between graduate students and teachers.
Boundary Issues in Teacher-Student Relationships
Teacher-student sexual relationships were considered exploitive by many, and this concern may have contributed to the strong feelings about homosexual behavior, even between adults, that persist to this day.
However, a number of authors have questioned the appropriateness of sexual interaction in teacher-student relationships even when they are consensual.
Studies have come from two rather separate bodies of literature. Some research has emerged from a growing concern about sexual exploitation of clients by professionals, primarily in the mental health professions,2,11,12 but also in such fields as medicine, law, and religion.
Of these, 31 percent reported receiving advances from psychology educators either prior to or during a working relationship, and 17 percent reported intimate sexual contact defined as intercourse or direct genital stimulation with at least one psychology educator during graduate training.
Of those, 33 percent considered it a hindrance to the working relationship in retrospect, while 19 percent did so at the time of the relationship.
Boundary Issues in Teacher-Student Relationships - AdvocateWeb
Over 95 percent of all the respondents considered such relationships to be ethically inappropriate, coercive or exploitive, or potentially harmful to the working relationship.
Schneider16 studied graduate women from a number of disciplines, and found that 9 percent reported coercive dating and sex with members of the faculty.
On one hand, some felt that any mutually consenting activity is acceptable. Still others noted more serious consequences of such relationships, including threats or harassment from a spurned faculty lover, resignation of students from their programs, and strong feelings of isolation and embarrassment.
Concern about the potential problems resulting from consensual sexual relationships between faculty and students has led some universities to enact formal policies16 and others to set less formal guidelines for faculty behavior.
Some examples will be given later in this paper. Despite these few recent developments, it is clear that there is still a substantial level of confusion in the academic community about the basis for any such standards.
In general, teachers are given little or no guidance as to how to deal with this issue. The remainder of this paper will attempt to develop a framework for discussion of this issue, based on the considerable literature arising from cases in the health professions and a consideration of what constitutes a productive mentoring relationship.
The fiduciary must act with the utmost good faith and solely for the benefit of the dependent party. All of these professions carry a special trust not to abuse the seen or unseen dependent elements that inevitably develop.
Further, such relationships may have the effect of undermining the atmosphere of trust on which the educational process depends.
Implicit in the idea of professionalism is the recognition by those in positions of authority that in their relationships with students there is always an element of power.
It is incumbent upon those with authority not to abuse, nor seem to abuse, the power with which they are entrusted…. Other amorous relationships between members of the faculty and students, occurring outside the instructional context, may also lead to difficulties.
Relationships between officers and students are always fundamentally asymmetric in nature.
The Teacher-Student Relationship: Where Do the Boundaries Lie? - School Governance
A teacher and student may simply be at the same institution and have no direct relationship. On the other hand, there may be a reasonable potential for a relationship to occur, for example in the case of a department chairman or dean, on whom the student may need to depend at some point. It is in such relationships that the need for both closeness and boundaries are at their greatest.
Clinical supervision in the mental health professions carries special needs for appropriate boundaries because of their relative levels of intensity, intimacy, personal disclosure, and isolation2,5 Levinson19 p. In his role as guide, he welcomes the initiate into a new occupational and social world and acquaints him with its values, customs, resources and cast of characters.
As exemplar, he serves as one whom the student can emulate. He may sometimes serve as a counselor in times of stress. This role may be reflected in relatively immediate functions, such as grading, or in more temporally indefinite functions such as the writing of letters of recommendation for advanced training, licensure, or career opportunities.
The first is what Levinson19 p. The mentor represents a combination of parent and peer; he must be both and not purely either one. If he is entirely a peer, he cannot represent the advanced level toward which the younger man is striving. If he is very parental, it is difficult for both of them to overcome the generational difference and move toward the peer relationship that is the ultimate though never fully realized goal of the relationship.
Next is the issue of mutuality,1 and this is probably where the challenge of the mentoring relationship to maintain appropriate boundaries becomes greater than in other professional relationships. As good teachers, we expect our students to contribute to our own professional growth. We learn from what they read, we want to be challenged by their questions, and we like to see their success as reflecting, at least in part, on our own professional expertise and devotion to them.
A part of this mutuality is our social interaction with our students, especially in a close academic environment. They can enhance working relationships in the training environment. They help acquaint the student with the people and the culture of the profession he or she is planning to enter. They may help contribute to the personal development of the student. And such activities reflect a concern with the development of the whole person, not only a well-educated professional.
In this way, our role as teacher is similar to that of a parent or a therapist.
In an article outlining the characteristics of a helping relationship, Rogers21 wrote about the importance of warmth, caring, liking, and interest, all of which reflect a degree of closeness to our clients. We must each give up the master without giving up the search p. The mentoring relationship traditionally has held special problems for women. And when a man becomes interested in guiding and advising a younger woman, there is usually an erotic interest that goes along with it.
What follows from that are many combinations we can easily recognize: The kicker is that the relationship of guide and seeker gets all mixed up with a confusing sexual contract. Almost without exception, the women I studied who did gain recognition in their careers were at some point nurtured by a mentor. When a woman is in the position of power, she, too, holds this responsibility.
Conroe and Schank2 suggested a guideline, at least with regard to clinical supervision, emphasizing the importance of finding a balance that suits the situation at hand. Sexual involvement not only has profound symbolic significance in a relationship, but it is relatively easy to define in operational terms. We may treat students differentially, not because of their academic or clinical qualifications, but because of a personal regard or attraction.
Boundaries, therefore, refer to a spectrum of activities that have the potential to exploit the dependency of a student in a number of ways. Boundary violations compromise the integrity and effectiveness of the student-teacher relationship.
If the professional relationship is an administrative one, the student may lose a potential resource for assistance in areas such as financial aid, career counseling, and so on. A dual relationship can confuse roles for the student, who is no longer sure what the relationship to his or her mentor should be. And eventually, that person is too much like her father for her own developmental good. The known existence of a sexual relationship and its tacit acceptance by the academic community reduces the tendency to discuss the issue openly, either as an institutional issue, or as an issue in clinical supervision.
Finally, one must consider the potential of personal harm to the student, especially if there is a history of poor self-esteem, dependency, or victimization. As with patients who become over-involved with their therapists, the betrayal of trust and sense of loss can sometimes lead to depression and a need for psychiatric care. Teachers are considered to hold a unique position of trust, care and authority due to their influence on children and young people through education and learning.
The result is an inherent power imbalance between teachers and students, which creates an expectation that teachers uphold high standards of integrity, accountability and professionalism. Schools and their teachers have a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect students from reasonably foreseeable risks of harm whilst involved in school activities. While most teachers understand their duties and professional responsibilities, overt and persistent breaches of professional boundaries present clear risks to child safety.
Failure to meet expectations of the teaching profession, particularly where breaches of professional boundaries occur, will likely cause a teacher to face disciplinary action, including cancellation and ongoing suspension of registration to teach, and may potentially expose them to criminal sanctions.
Professional Boundaries Case Study: JNS became a registered teacher in December Allegations emerged of an inappropriate relationship between her and a female student.
The student had attended the school since Year 8 and was described as having a troubled background, living with a foster parent during her enrolment. JNS taught the student in question for one subject between andwhile the student was enrolled in Year 10 to Year From the first half of until Marcha pattern of behaviour emerged from interactions between JNS and the student which pointed to ongoing and repeated breaches of professional standards.
Under the Education Queensland College of Teachers Act Qldbehaviour connected with the teaching profession that does not satisfy the standard of behaviour generally expected of a teacher constitutes a ground for disciplinary action. A similar ground also exists in other jurisdictions. On 16 Julythe QCAT found that this disciplinary ground was established on the evidence available. The QCAT prohibited JNS from reapplying for registration or permission to teach before 17 Mayand that a subsequent application by the teacher to do so would need to be accompanied by a report by a psychologist.