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Teacher-student sex cases now reported more

Posted June 18, 2009

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— Since the beginning of 2008, at least nine teachers or school employees in central North Carolina have been accused of sexual misconduct with students.

In the past month alone, a Durham County grand jury indicted teaching assistant Gina Watring on charges of having a sexual relationship with a Creekside Elementary School student, former Louisburg High School football coach James Collier was placed on probation after pleading guilty to taking indecent liberties with a student and Cumberland County school employee Jeffery Godwin was charged with paying a 15-year-old student for sexual favors.

Classroom Experts weigh in on teacher-student sex cases

The number of teacher-student sex cases isn't tracked by a single source, and authorities said cases sometimes go unreported.

Dr. Jonathan Abramowitz, associate chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said he believes the public is more aware today of the potential for abuse than in the past.

"I think it is more on people's radar screens, so those cases are getting reported more," Abramowitz said.

He said educators who get involved with students have one thing in common: sexual disorders like pedophilia.

"There is no specific profile of a pedophile. They are rich, they are poor, they are old, they are young," he said.

Dr. Kristen Wynns, a child psychologist, said some of the cases involving teachers and students aren't about a sexual disorder at all.

"The teacher is emotionally needy, maybe emotionally distressed to begin with," Wynns said. "She might not be having great success in her own marriage or her own relationship, so she turns to students, where she is getting the attention and the affirmation."

She said cell phones and other technology make it easier for some educators to contact students without their parents' knowledge. That makes it more imperative for parents to be aware of what's going on, she said.

Wynns said parents need to be aware of warning signs of an improper relationship between teachers and students, such as an adult showing extra attention to a student or an element of secrecy around the relationship.

"It's important, first of all, for parents just to have open contact, open communication with their kids," she said.

Cathy Paylor, who reared two daughters and is a nanny, said she often questioned her children about their school days.

"I would ask them, how did they feel during the day, did anybody make them feel uncomfortable," Paylor said.

Still, despite the open communication, she said she never talked with them about predator teachers.

"I felt safe with the teachers, and that never came up with the girls," she said. "It really upsets me, because you would think school is a safe place. Now, you think twice."


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  • scientistjo Jun 19, 2009

    If it sounds too absurd to be true, it probably isn't.

  • Beach4Me Jun 19, 2009

    I believe the students themselves have to be responsible. I have been in a number of schools and could not believe how trashy and vulger many students dress. This is especially true of the young girls. As a parent, I wouldn't let my child attend school like that. I know they have so called "dress code", but most of the time it is not enforced. A man's first attraction is by sight. That is where it all starts. Then when they are shown a little attention, some men can't control themselves. Everyone has to take responsibility to nip this in the bud.

  • HadEnough Jun 19, 2009

    If this had happened to me when I was in school, I wouldn't have told a soul. Probably would have had better grades too.

  • itsmyownopinion Jun 19, 2009

    It's not just teachers, both male and female, who take advantage of children, it's also bus drivers and custodians. Also, it's not new, it's been going on as far back as I can remember, and that's a long time. I'm glad it's now being reported. There was a time when it was swept under the rug.

  • jrfergerson Jun 19, 2009

    Seems to me that colleges are not teaching their students that are there to be future teachers what ethitcs in the classroom is all about. Maybe they took their teacher training at NCSU where the leaders taught them how to lie, cheet, and steal so they have no ethics.

  • rmgirl Jun 19, 2009

    One of the benefits of social networking is that this kind of behavior can be brought to light. Prior to this, it was much easier to keep these occurances unreported.

  • jlh4jdj Jun 19, 2009

    This makes me about as mad as I can be. No one gives a care as long as it is men that are getting busted. Now that they are starting to bust women "it must be a disorder". This is bull. I can't say much more WRAL will censor most of what I would say. I'm just saying equality only exist if it is PC at time for it to.

  • ConcernedNCC Jun 19, 2009

    When I was in school, if a female teacher had done this, the guy would have been having a party. How the world has changed.

  • Lead by Example Jun 19, 2009

    I guess when it is a 22 or 23 year old teacher and a 16,17, or 18 year old student the community isn't outraged as much. Those type of relationships would be legal in N.C. if they happened outside of a school environment. BE ADVISED, I'm not condoning them at all, just commenting on the viewpoints of many people I've heard comment on the subject.

    However, I will say that any of these adults having sexual relations with someone less than 16 years of age is repulsive. The same goes for someone in their 30s, 40s, or 50s having a "relationship" with a 16,17, or 18 year old. That sort of thing is psychologically disturbing and falls under sexual disorder. Those type of people cannot be treated for that illness. The only solution is too either lock them up, or limit their freedom as much as possible, and to shield them from kids by any possible means.

  • wakemom Jun 18, 2009

    lock her under and throw away the key