Ramifications Of Educator Sexual
Steps to Moral Failure
Steps to Moral Failure: Interventions
In collaboration with
Rev. Dr. Lori Wiley,
Character Development Foundation
The road to moral failure and subsequent teacher sexual misconduct is
complicated but there are signs alone the way. Recognizing these signs is
critical if interventions are to be applied. The following steps and interventions
are only a few of the many ways in which an individual may assess and
analyze behavior patterns that lead to sexual misconduct. The various
phases of the deviant behavior pattern are used as guidelines.
The format is one of presenting a behavior, a self question to determine
motive, and a suggested intervention.
I. PRETEND NORMAL PHASE
This phase is preceded by the avoidance and denial phases where an
individual avoids dealing with or recognizing any patterns of behavior violating
moral and ethical boundaries and denies the existence of any such behaviors.
1. Establishing rapport. Spending regular time alone with the victim.
Making it last longer and more often in order to “get the job done.” It may
begin with a legitimate reason for meeting.
Self: are there any other reasons for making it last longer or for more
(Prevention: Avoid meeting alone even in a public place such as a
classroom with a glass door. When two people seem to be meeting often,
question them about it.)
2. Discussion of topics that range away from the reason for meeting.
Self: are there motives for allowing or seeking additional topics; is there a
“need” to extend the relationship by encompassing more topics so that the
dependency is strengthened?
(Prevention: Set clear boundaries for the topic of all meetings. When
things come up that are outside the purpose of the meeting, make a
referral. Having a topic brought up that causes discomfort should raise
a red flag.)
3. Sharing of personal, emotional issues is the territory of professionals. They
are trained to avoid (or deal with) vicarious traumatization, the transfer of
emotional trauma and the empathy [trap] that exists in counseling.
Self: examine the deviant demeanor; is this a part of the grooming process,
do you want this person to feel special about you, do you want this person to
“like” you and return again and again? Are you really trained/prepared to deal
with the issues that this person is facing?
(Prevention: Items that are kept from family and others should be
questioned. Being asked not to share information with a spouse or anyone
else is a red flag).
4. Sharing of private information (“just between the two of us,” “I’ve never
told anyone else this.”), being in the role of a supportive listener for one who
is troubled or upset; a secretive dialogue, sharing of inner-most secrets in
order to strengthen the bond. This causes a sense of dependence or co-
dependency (“I couldn’t cope without you.”).
Self: go back to #3, re-examine your motives.
(Prevention: See the red flag. At this point you may not see it. Talk
with someone else about topics brought up that gave you discomfort. Get out
of the situation. Go to counseling. Don’t try to handle the
5. Developing a private reality: A perspective shared only by the two, having a
perspective or view of life and circumstances that is
different from the view of others, alluding to the ‘relationship’ - a distortion of
thinking-and placing the needs of the ‘relationship’ as a priority over other
Self: are the “normal” occurrences of daily life subjugated or relegated to
minor importance, or not done at all? A 'relationship' between a teacher and
student is a distortion; it is not rational and deviates from normal behavior.
(Prevention: Get help. Get out of the interactions.)
6. Having a fantasy life of a more intimate ‘relationship.’
This is a “biggy.” This is the step in the deviant cycle leading to the ACTING
OUT PHASE. The fantasies, the isolation (in order to fantasize), and the
behaviors that would not normally take place: looking up an address, tele#,
locating the address, cruising, finding excuses to go out when otherwise
Self: examine the content of #6. Access your behavior to insure that none of
these things are taking place.
(Prevention: Get help. At least turn to a colleague in whom you can confide
and trust. Best scenario is to seek professional help.)
7. Justifying the 'relationship' because of perceived deficits in the
home/marriage: blame shifting, justification and rationalization, and
Self: follows #6: extensions of the behaviors and justifications for abnormal
(Prevention: Get help. Vacillating between the normal and pretend phases
leaves you vulnerable and unlikely to recognize that help is needed. ‘The one
who needs the help the most is most unlikely to recognize it.’)
II. ACTING OUT PHASE (The Assault Phase)
8. Physical contact that is affectionate but not sexual. For example, hugs and
hand holding. These gestures are easily misinterpreted as more than
comforting and are another instrument in the grooming process. And contact
between a male and a female IS sexual.
Self: no physical contact should take place between student and teacher,
even in an instructional role such as physical education classes. There are
alternate ways of expression and instruction.
(Prevention: Avoid all forms of physical contact.)
9. A brief episode with vows that it won’t happen again.
Self: is this part of the grooming process; an assurance that all is well – for the
moment? Is this a form of entrapment, where false assurances are used to
(Prevention: Avoid all physical contact.)
10. A fascination with the ‘relationship’ that turns into an obsession. A sense
of being “in love” by at least one of the people. The thrill of the secret and
forbidden. It is possible to be highly successful and visible at one’s job during
this time. The ‘relationship’ energizes. It is possible to hide misconduct by
carrying on everyday routines (and even extra responsibilities) in a visibly
successful manner. In fact, one common behavior is that of exaggerated
diligence at creating a (false) sense of propriety. The thinking is this: if we do
certain things in an above-board manner, we can maintain our ‘relationship’
Self: have you evaluated the rationality of this ‘relationship’? Is it rational for a
‘relationship’ to exist between the two of you?
(Prevention: Get professional counseling for moral failure.
11. Vacillation between guilt and a belief that the ‘relationship’ is healthy and
helping the other person.
Self: are you playing on the words and using what is said as reinforcement for
the behavior? If you are ‘needed’ and ‘life is not the same without you’ what
is the truth of these endearments? Are you fulfilling a role best served by
(Prevention: Go for professional counseling.)
Other information: Pastors have more moral failure on Monday than any other
day of the week. The let-down from the high of Sunday causes them to be
especially vulnerable on Monday. Put special guards around Mondays.
Billy Graham had a policy that he would never be alone in a room with a
woman. His success as an evangelist has been attributed to the fact that
there has never been a breath of scandal attached to his ministry.
It usually happens where there is an imbalance of power, when one person is
considered “the expert” and the other is trying to follow his/her lead. When
one person is the “authority” or person in power, the other defers in spite of
an inner moral fibre...which is twisted and broken by the offender.