“Some are very attractive and you think, you can get a man your own age, what are you doing?But it’s about having a connection with that person.” It means that this type of ‘teacher-lover’ doesn’t always have deep-rooted mental issues. Donald Findlater, director of research at the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which researches sex abuse, estimates that 10 to 15 per cent of adults will have occasional sexual interest in a teenager.We’re so used to hearing about male offenders that our reactions are honed – disgust, outrage and pity for the victim. Normally it’s portrayed as the woman falling in love with the boy so we see it as a strange but romantic affair where age is just an obstacle.
[Offenders are] not inherently different from lots of us, but they choose not to monitor an appropriate boundary.” What’s worse is that there’s been an increase.A 2009 study found up to 64,000 women in the UK are ‘child-sex offenders’, though it’s estimated there are just hundreds in jails as opposed to thousands of male sex offenders.Unlike the other types of female perpetrators – ‘pre-disposed offenders,’ who have a history of being abused themselves, or ‘male coerced offenders,’ who sexually abuse younger people because a man is coercing them into it – these types of women convince themselves they’re in love. Anthony Beech, criminological psychology professor at the University of Birmingham, explains his thinking: “The teachers are entitled.They think they can have sex with anyone they want. There’s a narcissism – I can do what I want because I’m the most important person going.” But what about women such as 26-year-old teacher Ruth Vaughan who kissed a student at a leavers’ ball and had a sexual affair with him after he started university?Clinic psychologist Dr Jacquie Hetherton explains: “Women are stereotypically kind and loving and gentle and that doesn’t fit with our view of abusers.
When we hear about examples in the news, we think, maybe the child misinterpreted it? We think ‘it can’t be that harmful for the child’, but research shows it is for people when they realise what happened. “People tend to go, ‘it can’t be that bad’, and ‘cor...
lucky him’, especially if it’s an attractive teacher,” says Dr Hetherton.
“Society kind of endorses or supports [how the perpetrator sees the situation].” Typically, when an older woman offends by having a relationship with someone she’s in charge of professionally, they fit into a psychological category known as the ‘teacher-lover’.
She was banned from teaching for three years, and the relationship was deemed inappropriate even though the student wasn’t underage when they began being sexually active.
The National Council for Teaching and Leadership found her guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, though they acknowledged her conduct was “at the lower end of the possible spectrum,” and the incidents did not involve grooming. “It probably comes down to a connection,” says Dr Hetherton.
Psychological help is necessary, and the goal is to make them realise that their ‘affairs’ as they might see them are actually damaging the younger victim.