Why Is There A Double Standard When Female Teachers Have Sex With Students?

When news broke of a female teacher being charged with having sex with an eighth-grade student in Florida, a lot of the comments laughed off the inappropriate and illegal relationship.

One social media user wrote: "Can we spare a thought for this poor boy, he is currently in surgery due to the trauma his wrist has suffered from all of the high fives."

It reveals a shocking double standard of child sexual abuse and grooming, as some people don't seem to find an issue with the relationship if the female teacher is deemed attractive. Flip the genders around and you can be damn sure you wouldn't be seeing the commenters praise the female student for having sex with a teacher.

Stephanie Peterson has been charged with having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy
Stephanie Peterson has been charged with having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy

A 2013 study found women were responsible for 19 percent of child sexual abuse committed in positions of trust in the United States.

The study said: "Female sexual offenders are significantly underrepresented in the literature. Largely due to a failure of our society to recognise women as offenders."

Addressing the double standard

There's a sad double standard when it comes to addressing female teachers abusing a position of power compared with when men are caught doing the same thing.

We usually react with disgust and anger when a male paedophile of any age is arrested for soliciting sex with someone underage. Yet when the roles are reversed, some people don't seem to recognise the student is a victim.

"It's interesting that there are two very different reactions to female sexual predators," Relationship expert and psychologist Dr Pam Spurr tells LADbible.

"Some people simply can't believe that women would behave like that, because deep down, within our psyches, we view women as nurturing and caring.

"Then the reverse of this also happens, where people judge female paedophiles more harshly than their male counterparts because they're enraged that a woman, who should protect a child, has taken advantage of one.

"There is no difference - psychologically speaking or not - between a paedophile and a teacher engaging in a sexual relationship with a student if that student is underage.

"Even in university settings this is actively discouraged because of the imbalance of power between a university tutor and a student.

"It's no different to a scoutmaster, priest or minister, or anyone else who should be looking after the welfare of children, who then abuse a child."

Why do these relationships happen?

There's no 'one size fits all' explanation for what sparks these relationships.

Dr Spurr tells LADbible: "I think some teachers forget appropriate boundaries, in some part because of blurred boundaries with teachers often interacting with pupils online.

"And some forget such appropriate boundaries 'on purpose' because they want to interact on a more personal level with pupils who they might target for abuse."

Stephanie Anderson (Credit: Volusia County Sheriff's Office)
Stephanie Anderson (Credit: Volusia County Sheriff's Office)

Is it happening more these days?

A Daily Express investigation found there were 142 female teachers convicted of sex offences in 2016 in the UK, which is double the 2014 number and triple what was seen in 2010. Concerns were raised in a 2016 CLEARvoz Journal that social media and smartphones have made these types of relationships both easier to form and easier to be revealed to the public.

Before the turn of the century, you wouldn't find teachers or students sending naughty sexts to each other, nor would you have either party stalking the other on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - obviously because that type of stuff didn't exist.

It also leaves a digital breadcrumb trail that makes conviction much likelier because authorities have evidence of the relationship, compared to a he said she said scenario.

Credit: Creative Commons
Credit: Creative Commons

Dr Spurr tells LADbible: "Social media makes everything seem less formal. A person's natural sense of what is right, what's wrong, what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, seems to be broken down in some cases."

The Florida teacher that sparked this debate, Stephanie Peterson, has been charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious battery and one count of transmission of harmful materials to a minor.

The 26-year-old allegedly picked up the 14-year-old student in Volusia County late at night to have sex before returning him home around 1-2am. Police have also said that Ms Peterson bought the boy marijuana.

Featured Image Credit: Police Mugshots

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie is a Trending Journalist at LADbible. His first job was as a newsreader and journalist at the award winning Sydney radio station, Macquarie Radio. He was solely responsible for the content broadcast on multiple stations across Australia when the MH17, Germanwings and AirAsia disasters unfolded. Stewart has covered the conflict in Syria for LADbible, interviewing a doctor on the front line, and has contributed to the hugely successful UOKM8 campaign.

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