Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Watch out for sex predator schoolgirls

Published:Wednesday | January 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM


We oftentimes hear of reports of children being preyed on by unscrupulous men who have an unhealthy appetite for sexual relations with minors. What we seldom hear about is that some adult males suffer from sexual harassment, which is under-reported because of the manifest disregard and indifference typically attributed to the inequality in society.

The limited number of male teachers we currently have in the education system is at risk of being further reduced because of the dangers that lurk in the classrooms, as reported in the Sunday Gleaner article, 'Schoolgirl Stalkers' (January 3, 2016).

Complaints about sexual harassment have, predominantly, come from female students, and they usually get all the sympathy. However, we must acknowledge the stark reality and the disturbing trend where male schoolteachers, too, are being sexually harassed by their students.

Male teachers caught up in this situation are worried, and quite justifiably so, because their cases are more difficult to prove. Insofar as the inequality and unreasonable imposition of the law, it is, understandably, easier for them to leave the classrooms than to have their reputations destroyed or be subjected to a criminal prosecution.

The sending of amorous text messages and graphic sexual images, as well as provocative dressing by female students to seduce a male teacher, is certainly not a new phenomenon. It happens in other countries such as the United States, Canada and India, to name a few.

It is wrong for sexual harassment to be attributed to females alone. Schoolgirls should not feel as if they have more to gain when they use their bodies to solicit sex and provoke and tempt male teachers. There should be physical and emotional boundaries set by teachers in order to avoid a potentially dangerous situation while carrying out their legal obligations in the school system.

Although the aim of the social-networking groups that facilitate students and teachers alike was to enhance the teaching and learning process, the privilege is clearly being abused. It is highly inappropriate for a male teacher to be engaged in those groups without the appropriate guidance.

The Ministry of Education and other stakeholders must come together and address this serious issue that could result in the extinction of our male educators, because of the fear of criminal sanctions. There must be clearly defined regulations that address sexual harassment in schools, and to protect both the students and the teachers.

Sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, by schoolgirls, constitute harassment and a menace, and they must be reprimanded for this type of predatory conduct. They should be referred to the relevant authorities for an assessment, since it may be the manifestation of an underlying problem.