Blogs > Liberty and Power > 18-yr-old = legal/sexual child?

Jun 6, 2006 9:52 am

18-yr-old = legal/sexual child?

Another female teacher is accused of having sex with a male student and has been" charged with having an improper relationship with a student, a second-degree felony." She faces a possible 25-year prison sentence. (See article in Dallas Morning News for full account.) The twist in this case is that the student in question is and was of legal age in Texas when the alleged encounters occurred; the age of consent is 17-years-old and the student was 18. Nevertheless, the teacher"was charged under a law that outlaws sexual relationships between educators and students even if the sex is consensual and the student is of legal age." In other words, one occupation is being singled out to be punished as an exception under the law -- and punished severely -- while those employed in other occupations suffer no legal consequences for committing the same act -- that is, having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old. I am not arguing that the harsh law should be expanded to 'embrace' all workplaces. I'm pointing out what I think is an unconstitutional application of the law which will probably be tolerated because the hysteria over pedophilia is so great that society will nod its approval at defining an 18-year-old as a child and punishing teachers uniquely under the law.

And, yes, I would make the same argument if the sexes were reversed.

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More Comments:

Aster Francesca - 6/9/2006

I think the entire moral premise is ridiculous. The relationship between teacher and student, when spiritually substantial, has an aspect which is inherently akin to eroticism. The fact that such relationships more than occasionally plunge into explicit sexuality in not surprising and should not for itself be scorned.

I suppose Martin Heidegger should have been incarcerated for his relationship with Hannah Arendt.


Paul Noonan - 6/7/2006

In every state in the US a prison or jail guard who has sex with an inmate is considered guilty of rape regardless of the sex of the guard or inmate or the age of either party. (I know this law is in effect in every state because within the last 2 weeks I read somewhere that Vermont had become the last state to adopt this law.) I think this is a sensible and proper measure given the power disparity between a prisoner and a guard.

I don't think it is necessary to criminalize consensual sex between a teacher and a high school student who has reached the age of consent. I agree with the other poster that such a matter can adequately be dealt with by depriving the teacher of his/her license to teach in public schools.

This matter points up a disconnect in our thinking of what milestone constitutes reaching adulthood. In a strictly legal sense it's reaching one's 18th birthday. However, culturally graduation from high school (which, of course can occur either before or after one's 18th birthday) is of equal or greater importance.

Mark Brady - 6/6/2006

Agreed completely. That said, I can understand that most parents would be concerned if a teacher is engaged in a sexual relationship with their child at school. The way to handle this, of course, is for the school to make it a disciplinary offense for a teacher to engage in such a relationship with a student. It is not necessary to criminalize this sort of conduct.