A guide for parents: Signs to consider if worried about teacher sexual misconduct

Oklahoman Published: October 23, 2007
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There are no simple rules for determining if your child is the subject of inappropriate sexual attention from a teacher. It is not always easy to distinguish between an encouraging teacher and someone who is pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Predators work hard to groom children so they don't tell anyone.

While most educators are dedicated professionals, investigators and academic experts who've studied teacher sexual misconduct say there are some warning signs that should make you pay more attention and take action.

Their main suggestion: Talk to your child. Make sure she or he feels comfortable telling you if a teacher, or anyone, has said or done something that makes them uncomfortable. Be a good listener.

Other suggestions:

— Communication between teacher and student. Monitor e-mails, text messages, phone calls, Internet social networking and blogs, greeting cards and yearbooks. A teacher's communications should be about school, not the child's personal life.

— Time together. After-school activities should be encouraged, but be aware of time spent with a teacher and what goes on. If it's a pizza party with a teacher and a dozen kids, a parent should be there, one expert says. There should be no out-of-school, one-on-one meetings.

— Gifts or car rides. Most experts say teachers should not be giving gifts to individual students or car rides, except for emergencies.

— How your child and their friends talk about teachers.

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