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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

08 SEP 2011

Constructing childhood sexuality in teacher-student sexual relationships [2010] CFLQ 310

 

Teachers who engage in (consensual) sexual relations with their students commit serious offences as the law removes consent as a relevant factor in assessing teachers' guilt. The law thus constructs the matter as a breach of trust with the focus being placed on the behaviour of the teachers. Yet given that these relationships may involve actual consensual sexual behaviour (even if not in law) such cases also raise important questions about the construction of children's sexuality. This article seeks to analyse how children's sexuality is constructed in the context of teacher-student relationships through an analysis of the law and guidelines that attempt to regulate teacher-student relations and through two recent Australian cases. It concludes that while the law seeks to preserve childhood innocence through its construction of the child, it may be disempowering children from more actively participating in their own protection from inappropriate conduct towards them.

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