On January 17, a woman from the state of California released a YouTube video claiming that her former middle school teacher sexually abused her multiple times during her years as a student. The teacher that abused her had since been promoted to the role of vice-principal and ended up resigning from her position without having confirmed or denied the issue prior to hanging up their boots.
I felt grossed out, even disgusted, with the thought of a teacher sexually abusing a student. I decided to do a little bit of research and was faced with countless search results based on teacher-student sexual assault cases. It also got me thinking. Most of the reported cases were involving male staff. But what if some of these men were innocent? Some of them had to resign from their position and had their teaching license revoked, but maybe they were innocent through the entire situation and were forced into leaving based on (as of yet) unverified accounts such as the case that began a fortnight ago in California. In my high school, there was a rumor of a teacher, specifically a male teacher, who once taught at the school was accused of being a pedophile. The issue got so steamed up and tons of girls were reporting that he looked at them sexually or sexually abused them, the man ended up committing suicide. The story later said that the experience of the pedophile accusation ruined his life; it devastated his career and his relationships with the other faculty at the school. From what I’ve grasped, it was unverified.
I’m starting to reconsider my career choice now. I’m a third year student in the Concurrent Education program. I am enjoying my practicum experiences, but now I’m terrified of being accused of something I didn’t do because I’m male. I find it so appalling that these false accusations even exist. When I was younger, I was so naïve about the alleged stories that girls discussed regarding a teacher I had in the eighth grade. I don’t know if they were ever true, but at the time I knew I was simply going along with it out of the entertainment, going along with the what the crowd was saying (as you do at that age). The concept that these rumors passed on by hundreds of children could cause such a tension between their work life and their personal life never crossed my mind. Their life may be legitimately taken away from them because of unverified accusations. One comment could have destructive ripples. Don’t get me wrong, I know sometimes it actually happens and some of the reported allegations end up more disturbing than some may anticipate. From what I remembered, it was never the young teacher that just got hired, of course he’s good looking, he looks younger, so students try and flirt with them. It was the male teachers who were older who tended to have the accusations directed at them.
In today’s world, it seems that a look or interaction from a male school staff member can be viewed multiple ways, negatively being near the top. Any little look can call for grounds of harassment by a teacher. It seems stupid, really. It’s discouraging when hoping to becoming a teacher, who happens to be male. People may say “you’re a male, you have a better chance of being hired”, but no one adds “you might be accused of harassment, because you’re a male”. Yes, I understand I am only speaking for the males behalf and I understand that female teachers have been accused of the same sexual abuse chargers, as with the case in California. But speaking from a male’s perspective, nothing makes me angrier than having students ruin the lives of teachers for reasons proven false. It also makes me angry that there happen to be male teachers who are actually sexually abusing students, abusing their positions of power. You’re ruining it for the other male teachers who are actually innocent who need teaching for a living, who see the value and joy in educating youth. You’re disgusting. You’re failing what teachers actually stand for. In the future, I hope teachers colleges and programs like the Concurrent Education program educate student teachers about the current situations happening in our school system. They need to address what can happen if a teacher is accused, or even falsely accused, of such allegations. Society needs to think before they accuse; we all jump to the most extreme conclusions about such stupid things. All I’m asking, in conclusion, is ensure you’re comments are grounded in fact before you voice them.