Liaisons with pupils are always wrong

25th November 2005 at 00:00
Teachers are employed to teach and care for their students of every age, and having sex with a student is gross professional misconduct and a betrayal of the trust of school or collegeparent and student alike ("Dangerous liaisons in class", TES, November 11).

Doctors, psychotherapists, social workers are all in similar positions of trust and are bound by strict codes of professional conduct not to engage in sexual relationships with their patients and clients and so it should be for teachers and for lecturers right through the education system.

It seems that Dr Pat Sikes is unaware of the trauma and psychological affects such relationships can have on the students involved.

Unfortunately, little is publicised about this aspect of the problem as the victims are mostly unable to disclose what has happened to them - hence we rarely hear about them. They are often sworn to an unhealthy secrecy, which at worst leaves them suicidally depressed and unable to function and at best with a lifelong inability to form healthy sexual relationships.

This comes from the relationships that Dr Sikes condemns, but whether clandestine or not, any such relationship is exploitative as the teacher is in a position of power which he (or she) abused as soon as he engages improperly with his student.

The fact that students "often instigate genuine relationships" is irrelevant - it is entirely up to the teacher to exercise restraint and carry out his or her duty of care not to respond. He or she has to say "no".

What does Dr Sikes mean by a "genuine" relationship? Perhaps "equal, open and honest"? If so it can never apply to the teacherstudent situation.

There needs to be much more education for both teachers and students on this very difficult, misunderstood and somewhat neglected subject.

Dr Carol Lovelidge

29 Muswell Road London N10

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