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South Carolina Legislature Takes on Teacher-Student Relationships

Recently, the South Carolina House and Senate approved a measure that addresses student-teacher relationships.

2010-09-18
September 18, 2010 (Press-News.org) According to the State Department of Education, there are over 50,000 public school teachers in South Carolina. Most are inspiring professionals who do their best to educate their students and help them develop. However, the state has experienced several incidents over the past few years in which teachers have sexually abused or had inappropriate relationships with students.

In May, a South Aiken teacher was required to give up his teaching license as punishment for having an inappropriate relationship with a 15 year-old student. In June, a seventh grade teacher was arrested for having a sexual relationship with one of his students, and in July, a teacher from Clinton was arrested on similar allegations.

Legislative Action

Prompted by these and other cases of abuse by educators, legislators have taken a more aggressive approach. Recently, the South Carolina House and Senate approved a measure that addresses student-teacher relationships. According to the bill, it is a felony for an employee of a school to have sexual contact with a student who is 16 or 17 years old.

If the school employee, which can include teachers, administrators, substitute teachers and coaches among others, has sexual contact with a student who is 18 years of age, that employee is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be fined up to $500 and spend up to 30 days in jail.

This law would make it either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the student's age, to have sexual contact with a student, even if that student is capable of consenting to the contact. The age of consent in South Carolina is 16 years old.

Teacher Misconduct a Nationwide Problem

In 2007, the Associated Press conducted a study examining incidents of teacher misconduct in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Examining reports from 2001 to 2005, the AP found over 2,500 cases where educators had their teaching credentials revoked or sanctioned due to sexual misconduct or allegations of misconduct.

Nearly 90 percent of these offenders were male and there were multiple victims in almost 20 percent of these cases. The AP also discovered that, in many cases, teachers were simply allowed to leave the school without any formal discipline. Efforts by the offender, the school and even the parents in some cases, kept the abuse out of the public eye.

In some states, the AP found the reasons given for disciplining teachers were so vague it was nearly impossible to tell what actions lead to the discipline. Fellow teachers were also reluctant to turn in another teacher for a "hunch" and didn't want to end a career in the process.

The report also found that many people simply deny the problem and the media can glorify some incidents, especially in cases where a female teacher has a relationship with a male student.

Article provided by Richard J. Breibart
Visit us at www.breibartlaw.com


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[Press-News.org] South Carolina Legislature Takes on Teacher-Student Relationships
Recently, the South Carolina House and Senate approved a measure that addresses student-teacher relationships.