One of the posts there was titled Female Teachers Who Seduce Students, wherein a reader asked
what explains the recent phenomenon of female schoolteachers who engage in sexual intercourse with their teenaged students? This phenomenon started, as best I can remember, with Mary Kay Letourneau in the late 1990’s. But in the past four or five years the trend appears to have really picked up steam, and each day seems to bring a new scandal involving a female teacher and a male student. Why do these women do It? What are they thinking? What is motivating them?
I have even wondered this about teachers, male and female, and assumed when I was younger that it could be attributed to the moral decay after prayer was removed from school and then the increasing sexualization of American culture.
Looking into the history of child abuse recently gave me a different perspective and here is my contribution to the conversation. Unfortunately Laura, The Thinking Housewife, hasn’t seen fit to add my comment to the thread so here it is with some additions:
Attempting to pinpoint what is causing moral decay has become a popular pastime, but it’s based on the faulty assumption that morals are on the decline. Children have long endured physical and sexual abuse from their authority figures whether they be teachers, nannies, caretakers, parents, or nurses. Researching the history of child abuse after Adrian Peterson’s indictment led me to some really unpleasant source material, some of which is cited in Lloyd deMause’s The History of Childhood.
From the opening chapter, written by deMause:
Cardinal Bernis (1715-1794), remembering being sexually molested as a child, warned parents that “nothing is so dangerous for morals and perhaps for health as to leave children too long under the care of chambermaids, or even of young ladies brought up in the chateaux. I will add that the best among them are not always the least dangerous. They dare with a child that which they would be ashamed to risk with a young man.”
There’s a reasonably popular belief among protestants generally, certainly in the evangelical side of things I grew up with, that the clergy sex abuse scandals were caused by the tradition of celibacy. The implication being that if these men would just have an outlet elsewhere, they wouldn’t abuse children.
This, too, is entirely wrong. Child sexual abuse in the church has been a factor from the first century onward, having been inherited from Greek and Roman pederasty.
From Lloyd deMause’s chapter in History of Childhood:
The favorite sexual use of children, however, was not fellatio, but anal intercourse. Martial said one should, while buggering a boy, “refrain from stirring the groin with poking hand…Nature has separated the male: one part has been produced for girls, one for men. Use your own part.” This, he said, was because the masturbating of boys would “hasten manhood,” an observation Aristotle made some time before him. Whenever a pre-pubertal boy was shown being used sexually on erotic vases, the penis was never shown erect.
And the influence of early Christians who converted from Judaism wouldn’t have been much help because
Even the Jews, who tried to stamp out adult homosexuality with severe punishments, were more lenient in the case of young boys. Despite Moses’s injunction against corrupting children, the penalty for sodomy with children over 9 years of age was death by stoning, but copulation with younger children was not considered a sexual act, and was punishable only by whipping, “as a matter of public discipline.”
John Chrysostome (c. 349 – 407) tells parents to frighten their children not to go out into the streets because they “ran the risk of sexual attack by pedophiles offering sweets and nuts.” Christianity changed little in the use of young girls for raping. Convents were open brothels where “monks and confessors alike treated nuns and young novitiates as wives, but their victims’ mouths were sealed by the ‘dread of excommunication threatened by their spiritual fathers.” In many cities, “nunneries were often little more than whorehouses [providing] fornication between nuns and their gentlemen callers.” The clergy-in the past as in the present-was often reported as preferring little children to rape: “At Pope Alexander VI’s celebration of Catholic Spain’s victory over the Moors, children were passed amongst the clergy in a veritable ‘sexual bacchanalia.'”
Segregating schools by sex, as I believe you have advocated, won’t necessarily solve the problem, either. I’m unable to locate the citation immediately, but I’m almost certain that Thomas Cahill wrote in Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea that sexual activity becomes prominent in every same-sex community he has come across in his study of history.
One redeeming part I gleaned from all of the horrendous accounts is that we are, collectively as humans, treating children better even if it does seem to be taking too long. We’re hearing about child abuse, sexual and physical, now because it’s finally viewed as wrong and outside the norm; children suffered as much or more in the past but it wasn’t considered newsworthy then.