When I was in high school we had this drama teacher. Big at emoting; surprise surprise. There were a range of us, from those who wanted to be there acting to those who were slacking with an easy elective class. I was still shy but actually liked to act. One of the better “acting” students was, if anything, very dramatic. She and this teacher would emote at each other constantly, to the exclusion of the rest of us. In fact, he barely taught us at points because they were too busy googoo gaaing at each other.
Were they having sex? Most of us thought so. Did we care? Not really. I only cared because my instruction was suffering as this teacher gave one student who didn’t need it all of his time. Were we scandalized? No. Presuming they did have some sort of affair, I have to say that 17-18 year-old girl definitely was cognizant of what she did, wanted it, hoped for it. She certainly wasn’t coerced or influenced and may have manipulated the situation.
Hero worship, big daddy syndrome or whatever you want to call it has gone on for a very long time. Hollywood perpetuates it with leading men often 20 years older than the women. Only in a few cases have they (Hollywood) been brave enough to actually have a female lead older than the male. Harold and Maude is an example of a spring/winter relationship where friendship and personality does not see the boundaries of age. I’ve never had a problem with relationships where one person was significantly younger/older than the other.
A friend of mine is married to a man 18 years older, and friends of theirs just got married and there is nearly 30 years difference. I’ve dated men 15 years younger or older than me. What balances age? Attitude, similarities, wisdom, youthfulness and maturity.
A teacher in their 20s or 30s attracted to an 18-year-old isn’t that odd in our society. Where the problem comes in, today at least, is that there is seen to be an imbalance of power. A teacher could in essence coerce a student into having sex with them for passing grades. This applies as well to colleges and universities. Such fraternization isn’t just frowned on but basis for dismissal. Old movies are rife with college professors married to the young women they slept with, causing their first marriage to fail. Of course, a professor can also be blackmailed by a student in such a relationship.
There have been several cases of teachers being charged; sometimes with true grounds for sexual harassment. Sometimes the instructor was blackmailed or set up without any truth. There are people who will use any situation to manipulate and have power over someone. Doing an internet search will show that there are enough cases of teachers of both genders having sex with their students.
A female Burnaby teacher at St. Thomas More school is now under investigation for alleged relations with a grade 11 student. Tom Ellison was convicted with a conditional sentence for his sexual congress with 17 students (that he confessed to being with). Twelve of seventeen former students complained of their relations with him in the 70s. Because laws for any teacher having sex with a person under 18 regardless of consent were not passed until 1988, the sentence was of a lesser degree.
There are two aspects to teacher/professors having sex with students. The main one for both is the abuse of a position of authority. For school teachers it is also the issue of underage sex. There are definite cases of rape and sexual abuse, but there are also the nebulous cases and it becomes unclear who instigated and if a student would ever suffer ill effects from the sexual encounters with their teachers. The simplest way to keep it from getting ambiguous is the law as it stands:
The Criminal Code does not now criminalize consensual sexual activity with or between persons 14 or over, unless it takes place in a relationship of trust or dependency, in which case sexual activity with persons over 14 but under 18 can constitute an offence, notwithstanding their consent. Even consensual activity with those under 14 but over 12 may not be an offence if the accused is under 16 and less than two years older than the complainant. The exception, of course, is anal intercourse, to which unmarried persons under 18 cannot legally consent, although both the Ontario Court of Appeal(3) and the Quebec Court of Appeal(4) have struck down the relevant section of the Criminal Code.
Blame can often be shared. There is a bigger difference of sex with a 14-year-old than with an 17-year-old. Coerced sex is never right but consensual sex gets iffy. Teachers are now being tried mostly on the basis that they are going against the law. If anyone asked me in a court of law if that high school classmate of long ago was coerced, I would definitely say not. But if the affair affected how we were being taught, I would definitely say yes. And if one had broken up with the other, there could have been blackmail. It’s better to keep it black and white.