It’s not OK.
The law is crystal clear on this issue. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, any sexual relationship between someone who is in a position of trust, such as a teacher and a person to whom that trust extends, is criminal.
In turn, the school and the local body in charge of the school owe a duty of care to students to protect them from a sexual offence, as is defined under section 78 of the Sexual Offences Act. This provision states that:
“Penetration, touching or any other activity is sexual if a reasonable person would consider that—
- whatever its circumstances or any person’s purpose in relation to it, it is because of its nature sexual, or
- because of its nature, it may be sexual and because of its circumstances or the purpose of any person in relation to it (or both) it is sexual.”
An unknown number of cases
Because of the likelihood that many cases would go unreported, there are no clear figures on how many students are abused by teachers each year. According to the BBC in a 2014 report, at least 959 teachers and school staff had been accused of having a relationship with a pupil in the past five years.
- Andrew Green, 59, Shelley College, Huddersfield – talked to a student about sexual acts he performed with two women - including describing male ejaculation – and then told the student he 'might be able to help her out' with some of her fantasies.
- Paul Birch, 64, Bedford Modern School – a disciplinary panel found he asked an 11-year-old boy to remove his trousers and pants in the 1970s after calling him into a private room; comparable allegations by another pupil were also upheld.
- James Andrew Christopher Wilson, 67 - fondled the genitals of five pupils while teaching at Pennycross Primary School in Plymouth from 1970 to 1985.
The danger of teacher/student sexual relationships
It is easy to see the criminality where a teacher has sexual relations with a child under 16 years. But cases where a student is 16 years or older can cause some to believe that because the child is over the age of consent, the relationship is OK.
Take for example, Lauren Cox, 27, who had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. She was jailed for 12 months last year after the student confessed about the relationship to his parents. The court heard that Ms Cox had known the student since he was 13 years and may have been grooming him prior to consummating the relationship.
This is an example of why sexual relations between teachers and students are deemed unacceptable regardless of whether the child is over the age of consent. Teachers hold a position of trust and sometimes the situations they find themselves in with children and young people can make it simple to abuse that confidence.,
In November 2016, eight victims of Marcus Marcussen, who worked at Illmington Road Comprehensive School in Weoley Castle, Birmingham, were awarded £80,000 in compensation. Mr Marcussen was jailed at the age of 91 in 2015 for sexually assaulting schoolboys 60 years’ prior.
Birmingham City Council agreed various settlements with eight of the victims.
Students between the ages of 16-18 years who have had sexual relations with a teacher may not just be victims of a crime, they have also been failed by the school and local authority who had a clear duty to protect them from sexual abuse.
Depending on the details of the situation, a successful compensation claim may be bought.
Compensation and justice for sexually abused children
Victims of sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher can suffer painful consequences for many years after the events occurred. Grades can suffer and self-esteem can plummet. Compensation can help victims take positive steps to rebuild their lives.
At IBB, our child abuse personal injury team, led by Malcolm Underhill, has the expertise and knowledge to advise and represent you if you wish to make a claim following sexual abuse at a school. To talk about how we might be able to help, please phone us on 0333 123 9099, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our contact form. Any discussions you have with us will be in the strictest of confidence and handled with the utmost sensitivity.