Teacher misconduct: Research on educators committing crime
US (JR) — A junior high school teacher in Illinois was charged with battery, accused of throwing an electronic device at a student’s face during an argument.
In Florida, a first-grade teacher lost her job after campus officials said they found her drunk in class.
A Michigan high school automotive teacher was charged with criminal sexual conduct after allegedly having sex with a teenager on school grounds.
Journalists regularly cover stories about teachers behaving badly. To help, we’ve pulled together a sampling of academic research that looks at teacher misconduct broadly as well as sexual misconduct specifically.
We also included a published study on nondisclosure settlements — agreements made between teachers and school districts that limit how much information a district can share with other districts about a former employee.
“An Analysis of Educators Sanctioned for Misconduct”
Brady, Geronima; Tajalli, Hassan. Research in Education, 2017. DOI: 10.1177/0034523717746435.
Results: “Some of the findings correspond with the findings of the criminal justice literature while others do not. Young, male, and black educators are more likely to offend. Contrary to the literature on ‘student discipline’ and ‘criminal justice,’ minority educators are not treated more harshly when they are disciplined. There are some offenses committed more often by younger, male, and those educators who have held their credentials for a shorter amount of time.”
“Teacher Misbehavior and its Effects on Student Interest and Engagement”
Broeckelman-Post, Melissa Ann; et al. Communication Education, 2015. DOI: 10.1080/03634523.2015.1058962.
Abstract: “This study sought to investigate whether there was any relationship between teacher misbehaviors and student interest and engagement. Consistent with Emotional Response Theory and models for how teacher behavior impacts student interest and engagement, teacher misbehaviors were strongly correlated with student interest and weakly correlated with student engagement. Teacher incompetence predicted the most variance in student interest, followed by indolence and offensiveness. There was a difference in teacher misbehaviors between the two universities where this study was conducted, but not in student interest or engagement.”
“In your Facebook: Examining Facebook Usage as Misbehavior on Perceived Teacher Credibility”
Hutchens, Jason S.; Hayes, Timothy. Education and Information Technologies, 2014. DOI: 10.1007/s10639-012-9201-4.
Abstract: “Teachers sometimes do things that negatively impact their own credibility in classroom settings. One way instructors maintain credibility among students is by keeping a veil between their personal and professional personas. The advent of Facebook presents new challenges for instructors seeking to keep their personal lives private in order to maintain credibility among students. In educational settings, Facebook communications can blur the personal and professional boundaries that students and professors are accustomed to. As such, instructors in higher education sometimes struggle with the implications of ‘friending’ students in the context of social networking. The purpose of this study was to examine whether or not educator usage of Facebook had any impact on student perceptions of instructor credibility. Facebook presence was examined in the context of teacher ‘misbehaviors’ (that is, actions by educators that negatively impact their credibility). A modified version of Teven and McCroskey’s (1997) Source Credibility Instrument was given to a sample of college students (N = 187) to compare instructors that use Facebook with those who do not. While students appear to be generally accepting of instructor usage of the social tool, some findings suggest that there are probably ways to abuse it in a manner that could lead to negative perceptions of credibility. Ultimately, results from this study indicated that there were no significant differences among student perceptions of instructor credibility based on whether or not an educator used Facebook.”
“Teacher License Revocation and Surrender in North Carolina due to Sexual Misconduct”
Walter, Jennifer S. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 2018. DOI: 10.1177/1057083718754315.
Abstract: “The sexual misconduct of school employees has become a more common issue in the United States, and there has been very little empirical research conducted to provide context or understanding of the prevalence of this problem. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the reasons for license revocation and surrender in North Carolina with special attention to licenses lost due to sexual misconduct. Analysis indicated that 688 (91 percent) licenses were revoked and 67 licenses (9 percent) were voluntarily surrendered. The reasons listed for revocation or surrender were primarily sexual infractions with students (n = 458; 61 percent). Employment information was located for 302 of the 458 school employees (66 percent) who lost their licenses due to sexual infractions. Of the 302 school employees found, 69 were coaches (23 percent) and 36 were music teachers (12 percent). Conclusions and implications for music teacher educators are discussed.”
“A Descriptive Analysis of Public School Educators Arrested for Sex Offenses”
Ratliff, Lindon; Watson, Joshua. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 2014. DOI: 10.1080/10538712.2014.870275.
Abstract: “This study examined trends and patterns in public school teacher convictions in order to create a descriptive profile of teachers who have offended against their students. To accomplish this goal, the authors reviewed public records for demographic information as well as the history and frequency of teacher arrests and convictions in the southeastern United States from 2007 to 2011 and created an offender profile. Subsequent analyses were conducted to assess whether gender differences among sexual misconduct offenders existed in terms of the age of their alleged victim, the grade level in which they were employed at the time of arrest or indictment, and the manner by which their alleged crimes were revealed and charges were brought against them.”
“The Reverse Double Standard in Perceptions of Student-Teacher Sexual Relationships: The Role of Gender, Initiation, and Power”
Howell, Jennifer L.; Egan, Patrick M.; Giuliano, Traci A.; Ackley, Braden D. The Journal of Social Psychology, 2011. DOI: 10.1080/00224540903510837.
Abstract: “The present study tested the prediction that male teachers are judged more harshly than female teachers for engaging in heterosexual intercourse with a student. One-hundred and eighty-seven adults (116 women, 71 men) evaluated a hypothetical newspaper article describing an alleged student-teacher relationship … As expected, a reverse sexual double standard was revealed, in which participants judged situations involving male teachers more harshly than they judged situations involving female teachers, but only when the sexual contact was teacher-initiated. Participants also believed that male students received more social benefits from the sexual contact than did female students.”
“Teacher Sexual Misconduct: Grooming Patterns and Female Offenders”
Knoll, James. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 2010. DOI: 10.1080/10538712.2010.495047.
Abstract: “Educator sexual misconduct has received increasing attention over the past decade. The attention has exposed a number of concerning issues, including a lack of formal research in the area and difficulties in recognizing and prosecuting cases. Public responses to high profile cases of sexual misconduct involving female teachers suggest that gender-biased views on sex offenders remain prominent in society. This article will review the literature on female teacher sexual misconduct in addition to what is known about grooming patterns and warning signs. Finally, current dilemmas in resolving cases of educator sexual misconduct will be discussed, and basic prevention strategies will be recommended.”
“Educator Sexual Misconduct and Nondisclosure Agreements: Policy Guidance from Missouri’s Amy Hestir Student Protection Act”
Surface, Jeanne L.; Stader, David L.; Armenta, Anthony D. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 2014. DOI: 10.1080/00098655.2014.891897.
Abstract: “Allegations of sexual misconduct may prompt districts to enter into non-disclosure or settlement agreements with alleged perpetrators in exchange for a recommendation. Non-disclosure settlements typically limit how much information districts can share with other districts. This process, often referred to as passing the trash, can be particularly troublesome. Missouri’s Amy Hestir Student Protection Act provides policy guidance regarding non-disclosure agreements when allegations of educator sexual misconduct arise.”
This article was prepared by Denise-Marie Ordway for Journalist Resource.