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Old 03-08-2012, 03:20 PM   #31
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Perhaps because it's a fairly conservative private college the administration feels the need to be more strict with conduct in general. All of our major projects are funded by wealthy donors that for the most part are very conservative and old fashioned.
Your school is pretty small too as I recall, and that also could be a reason for policing faculty-student dallying especially strictly--situations that might evoke an "Aw who's gonna care?" in Ann Arbor (though against policy there too) might in practice be impossible to ignore in a close environment. Of course being married (or even worse, getting involved with a married student) won't help your case anywhere; most of the few terminations over this issue I've heard about at public universities involved faculty stupid enough to get involved with married students, whose spouses discovered obscene text messages etc. You put your dean on the receiving end of that person's wrath, I guarantee s/he won't feel too sympathetic towards you! But in general public schools are under more pressure to balance faculty freedom of association against potential conflicts of interest, rather than pinning all the weight on the latter factor.
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No agendas, just wondering what people thought about it. Is that illegal around here? Or is it more fun to assume that people have agendas and to comment on that? I don't know, just a bit confusing there.
No one said anything about "agendas"...? I did ask what's the angle, i.e. what's the intended ethical issue under discussion here, because as the responses suggest, there's potentially more than one. It was a question, not an allegation.

Powers' father died when she was about 11 based on the article, so it seems unlikely that would be highly and directly pertinent to her recent state of mind. No way to know from the outside, but it could just as easily be the case that she pursued him more aggressively than the reverse--I've personally seen that happen at that grade level. As a matter of professional ethics, neither of their mindsets really matter though; virtually all high schools nowadays have blanket bans on teacher-student dating/sex. As they should, IMO; not because I dismiss out-of-hand that emotionally mature relationships between 18- and 41-year-olds could exist, but because the great majority of students at any high school are neither legally nor developmentally adult, and in establishing workplace ethics codes you base your policies on preserving an overall environment, you don't leave it up to individual teachers to decide if a relationship with a given student might be okay for both of them once the student hits the magic age of consent. Above and beyond that, just as in college there's the "conflict of interest" issue too.

I don't personally find the specifics of either of their family situations all that relevant, since as several posters have pointed out, at that point you could be describing any number of people and it's impossible to say from the outside how those (few) known factors might (or might not) be impacting either of them personally. Maybe she's a confused and isolated teen in search of a father replacement (or a defiant and sexually precocious teen rebelling against a disrespected mother); maybe not. Maybe he's a frustrated and lonely man in search of the loving and understanding partner he never had (or a vain and selfish man exploiting teen naïveté to shore up his sense of manhood); maybe not. We can't know.
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Old 03-08-2012, 06:10 PM   #32
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Legally speaking there is nothing wrong with this relationship, as far as we know.

However... I have a very difficult time believing... given the number of text messages sent before they say the relationship started, and before she was 18... and given that she's an at risk target for predators considering the death of her father... that this guy didn't, at the very least, begin a grooming process long before she was of legal age.

If that is true... then yes, technically speaking he did nothing illegal, but the man should be black balled from ever being around children in a supervisorial role again.
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Old 03-08-2012, 06:22 PM   #33
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The text message thing for me - and the number of them and when they were does seem, um, at least questionable. Of course they could be lying about when the relationship started, for obvious legal reasons. It gives me a bit of the creeps, any teacher having that kind of text bombing contact with a student. Don't think they were talking about homework.

I think it's entirely possible that an 18 year old girl, losing her father at age 11, could be very emotionally vulnerable to attention from a man that age. Could be a very potent factor. Don't know how much she has dated, the ages of the boys, etc. But I don't think most 18 year olds (and younger, because I don't believe any "romantic" feelings just magically started on her 18th birthday) are routinely attracted to 41 year old men.
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Old 03-08-2012, 06:27 PM   #34
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creepy, yes. illegal, probably not.

there are lots of gross and creepy reasons why people get into and out of relationships in all walks of life, and 40-year olds can have daddy abandonment issues. i think what weirds us out is the age and the fact that this was her high school teacher. had she been an 18 year old college freshman i don't think we'd be having quite the same reaction.
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Old 03-08-2012, 07:16 PM   #35
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Anyway..the thing that stood out to me right away was that her father had died. Maybe after some time passes she'll see things, and the teacher, more clearly. Could be a case where there are issues with the home situation-the mother's new fiance, etc. Who knows.
I kinda noticed that, too. I found it sort of strange that her mom was going on an all out campaign about this on Facebook after the story came out, and then there's all that talk about how she tried to be as restrictive with her child and thought that'd be enough to keep her from getting into such situations... I don't know how to put it, really, but it just seems like she didn't seem to pay enough attention to what was really going on beforehand and now she's deciding to be the really involved parent. It seems weird that this was going on as long as it was and the mom didn't suspect anything for the longest time. I'm not saying she shouldn't be outraged or anything, if I were a parent I'd be upset about it, too. But she doesn't come off as the most observant person, at least, not the way this article portrays her.

I hope that makes sense, I don't know how else to better explain it.

As for the couple...well, they met when she was a freshman. If he had a relationship with her before she was of legal age, he's committed a crime. Whether she consented or not is irrelevant at that point. And even if they had waited until she was 18, if he's had an attraction to her before then, the idea of a 41-year old man having an attraction to an underage girl and waiting for the day when she turns 18 to start dating her just sort of creeps me out on many levels. I do agree once people are of legal age they can do whatever they please and it shouldn't be anyone's concern at that point beyond those in their immediate circle, but in this case there's an extremely uncertain area, and the whole story is just very weird to me. And then of course there's the whole "teachers shouldn't get involved with students" thing-too much mess that could result there. But then again, relationships can be messy even if the people are on equal footing in every area, I guess.

I also wholeheartedly agree with Cori and them in here about the whole "homewrecker" thing. She can tempt him all she wants, he's still the one who chose to leave his family. It's his fault his family fell apart.

What is the deal, by the way, with all these stories of teachers sleeping with students? Why does this seem to pop up as a news story every so often?
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Old 03-08-2012, 07:47 PM   #36
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It's a big deal because it violates the trust people place in teachers as authority figures, which generally rules out openness to the possibility of them conceiving of their students as a potential dating pool. Or even friendship pool, at least at this grade level. But there've always been high school teachers and coaches who have affairs with their (not-necessarily-"of age") students; that went on back when I was in high school too.

Teenagers and especially older teenagers can be very clever and strategic about hiding things, so I wouldn't necessarily assume her mother was extraordinarily clueless, though that's possible. And sometimes single parents, particularly in the near aftermath of a partner's death or abandonment, are especially overwhelmed and distracted by factors beyond their control. My father died unexpectedly during my sophomore year in high school, the upheaval for my mother and by extension me and my younger siblings was huge (we had to move, she had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, naturally she was lonely and depressed and often short-tempered as well etc.) and I'm certain I could've gotten away with quite a lot without her noticing subtle changes in my behavior, not that I tried.
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Old 03-08-2012, 08:48 PM   #37
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It's a big deal because it violates the trust people place in teachers as authority figures, which generally rules out openness to the possibility of them conceiving of their students as a potential dating pool. Or even friendship pool, at least at this grade level. But there've always been high school teachers and coaches who have affairs with their (not-necessarily-"of age") students; that went on back when I was in high school too.
I didn't mean to ask why it was a big deal-certainly I know why it's always newsworthy. I was more wondering why this seemed to be getting so commonplace. But I think I may have misworded my question in regards to that, though, so apologies in that case if it came off confusing .

But like you said, it's been going on for years-just more ability to broadcast such things nowadays. Still, though, it doesn't exactly speak well for an education system when this stuff seems to keep getting in the news, and it's just strange that this sort of story keeps popping up every few months. Normally, though, it's the reverse-the female teacher having a fling with a male student.

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And sometimes single parents, particularly in the near aftermath of a partner's death or abandonment, are especially overwhelmed and distracted by factors beyond their control. My father died unexpectedly during my sophomore year in high school, the upheaval for my mother and by extension me and my younger siblings was huge (we had to move, she had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, naturally she was lonely and depressed and often short-tempered as well etc.) and I'm certain I could've gotten away with quite a lot without her noticing subtle changes in my behavior, not that I tried.
This is quite true. That's why I was so uncertain about how to word my thoughts on that part of it all, 'cause I didn't want to come off like I was making her out to be a horrible mother or something, but I just found some of her behaviors in the story odd and questionable (yeah, teenagers can be incredibly savvy about hiding things, but at the same time I'd have to think there'd be SOME telling point-like the girl's grades slipping and that that was alluded to here-that would make a parent raise an eyebrow sooner). But yeah, in her defense, I am also going off what the article said, too. That doesn't always tell the whole story.
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:40 AM   #38
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I wonder if the girl's father left her mother when she was young, resulting in the girl now loooking for a bangable father substitute. Otherwise, two dumb meatbags without a fully-formed pile of grey matter. Nothing to see here, folks.

This is par for the course in 2nd-tier world societies such as Egypt or South Florida.
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Old 03-09-2012, 11:10 AM   #39
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Florida really is in a world of it's own when it comes to bonkers shit like this.
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Old 03-09-2012, 01:43 PM   #40
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Teenagers have affairs with teachers everywhere; I saw it at my podunk high school in Mississippi (no doubt in "2nd-tier world society" territory) and I saw it at my fancypants prepschoolish high school in Brooklyn. Granted, teachers leaving their families for these students is unusual, then again if anything that's reason to question easy classification of this guy as a mere cad or pedophile (ephebophile?).

The infantilizing way we tend to talk about girls in these situations gets under my skin, regardless of how I view the professional ethics of it (flatly unacceptable).
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:41 PM   #41
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I don't think this is a new thing. If anything I would guess it happens less due to more strict rules about what constitutes sexual harassment and what the consequences are. For example, see my previous posts about what happened where I work... that reaction was based on the same sort of thing having happened several times before and the school administration deciding to implement and strictly enforce a no fraternization policy and also more clearly define the school's policy on sexual harassment. When I did the new mandatory sexual harassment training we were given some letters written by previous students who had been in relationships with professors and used as a case study that informed the new policies.
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:52 PM   #42
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The infantilizing way we tend to talk about girls in these situations gets under my skin, regardless of how I view the professional ethics of it (flatly unacceptable).


agreed. women are always prey and men are always predators.

were it a male student i don't think we'd be as upset.
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Old 03-10-2012, 12:47 PM   #43
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I think the prey/predator thing has more to do with the minor and significantly older adult, and the teacher/student. For me there is absolutely no difference if it was a male student and a female teacher, it's exactly the same. We've talked about that before here and everyone does not feel that way. If my memory is correct the only people who saw a difference were male (not all males saw a difference - some didn't). And they saw it as some sort of rite of passage that the guy would want, regardless of age and an adult taking advantage of the teacher position.
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:11 PM   #44
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That may be true for you, but that's simply not true for the general conversation.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:34 PM   #45
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For me there is absolutely no difference if it was a male student and a female teacher, it's exactly the same.
I believe you, and it's true there's a kind of flipside here where many refuse to even consider (e.g. in that other story you're referencing) that a sexual relationship between an early-adolescent boy and his (married, adult) female teacher might harm his psychosexual/psychosocial development. But the boy in that story was only 14 and, as I remarked at the time, there's a substantial developmental difference between a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old. (I'm comfortable with 18 being our designated age of majority, for example, whereas no way would I be comfortable with 14 being the threshold--IMO, the average 14-year-old intrinsically lacks adequate foresight, impulse control, and ethical reasoning to reliably manage full adult responsibilities on our society's terms.) Besides, the fact that some (not all) male posters in that thread responded by mocking the story doesn't disprove a *general* social tendency to more readily ascribe a helpless, passive "prey" role to girls than to boys.

In fact, part of what floored me about those responses--and this actually pertains directly to what I meant above about infantilizing girls--was the blatant double standard about sexual agency. When asked why that case should be treated any differently than a male teacher sleeping with a 14-year-old female student, those posters nonsensically responded to the effect that, well, teenage boys are "horny" and fantasize about sex with "hot teachers." It seemed not to occur to them that teenage girls are also horny and also fantasize about sex with hot teachers, that quite a few of them (more so than boys, I'd think?) do in fact wind up sleeping with said teachers, that in almost all those cases they consent to it and often even determinedly pursue it beforehand. Yet with girls we find it easy to dismiss that consent as meaningless--to the point that even an 18-year-old's teacher/lover is dubbed a "monster" and "predator" in the media--whereas with boys, consent is assumed to be so unassailable that it evokes widespread hilarity to question it, even for a 14-year-old. So, the girl's teacher coldly, methodically, ruthlessly exploits her (hey, it's kinder than calling her a slut), whereas the boy's teacher is just an opportunity for him to prove what a commanding stud he is (what she thinks she's doing? hahaha who cares?). Right. Because we all know that's exactly how those situations all play out in real life, and exactly how people who've lived them from the student's end always look back on them afterwards.

If Mr. Hooker (what a name eh) is found to have had a physical relationship with Ms. Powers before she turned 18, I'd be okay with him going to jail. I agree with Headache that he probably should never be allowed to hold a supervisory role with adolescents again--he had a public trust he was sworn to uphold, and he violated it big-time. But I also think the responsibility for 18-year-old Jordan Powers choosing to sleep with him, move in with him, speak to media with him, and plan her next moves in life with him, should rest with...Jordan Powers. And I sincerely hope she's ready for it, because chances are good the "monster" is himself more an impulsive, escapist, irresponsible mess than a diabolically clever lecher. I don't buy that lost fathers, or overstretched mothers who substitute regimentation for communication, leave anyone that age helpless to exercise sufficient reason to recognize leaps s/he can't handle--I've been there, and frankly I'd be pretty freaking insulted if someone implied I wasn't culpable for whatever stupid shit I did do, on account of having been too fragile and flighty to spot the shit so stupid it'd dash me against the rocks. (Which is why I think her mother's Facebook/media campaign to tar and feather Hooker is a dreadfully ill-advised way for a parent to react, even though as a mother I truly do feel for her.) Every individual and every life story are different, I know, but as Irvine pointed out, that much is true even of 40-year-olds; we've got to draw lines somewhere.
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