By Mary Jo Rapini
There has been a series of news stories about female teachers having sex with their students. Almost every state in the United States is reporting similiar cases, and everyone is asking the same question: Why? In 2004, the United States Department of Education reported that 40 percent of perpetrators of unwanted sexual attention toward children were women and that number has steadily risen over the past nine years.
To understand why a female teacher would become sexually involved with one of her students, you have to understand what is going on in her head. Most of these women appear to be vibrant, normal, healthy adult women, but they may feel like teenagers themselves inside. Many of them have arrested emotional development; they giggle and carry on very much as a teenager. What’s strange is that they choose one aspect of the student they focus on and they idealize that aspect into being one of honesty, integrity and innocence — separate from the jadedness of the adult world.
Soon they see this teenager as being their age, like a peer. In psychology, this is frequently seen and is called “counter-transference”. The teacher focuses on one aspect of the child and idealizes it romantically; she then projects that on to her distorted reality. No one else realistically sees what the teacher has created in her mind. It becomes so bizarre that soon the teacher is planning her married life with kids after her student finishes high school.
One thing to consider is that we — as the public — tend to focus on the sex part of this relationship because that’s what ultimately leads to the arrest of the teacher. However, an emotional relationship usually develops long before sex take places. That is, the grooming, the meeting up, the numerous texts, the cute hand-written love letters and the sleepless nights. If an intervention is made at this time, you can end the relationship before sex takes place — getting help for the child and taking legal action against the teacher.
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