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One in 30 students has had a relationship with a teacher

Published: 10 Feb 2013 10:14 GMT+01:00

Out of 600 high school students who participated in a survey by the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, 20 said they have had a sexual or romantic relationship with a teacher, with one percent claiming they are still in such a relationship.

Two percent said they have classmates who are in a sexual relationship with a teacher.

Five per cent, or 32 students, know or have heard of students in other classes or schools who are in relationships with teachers.

Around 80 percent of Swedes attend high school (gymnasium), which is not compulsory and corresponds to grades 10 to 12.

The law says that someone who persuades another person to engage in a sexual act by seriously taking advantage of that person's position of dependency should face up to two years in prison. However, the deed must constitute a clear abuse of power.

"The law could be better and clearer," said Kristina Huldt, a lawyer with experience of handling sexual abuse cases.

"As it stands, evidence is required that the teacher in question persuaded the pupil. That can be hard to prove," said Huldt.

For Gisele Priebe, a psychologist and researcher at Lund University, the problem is not whether sexual relations between teachers and pupils are illegal or not.

"Even if the pupil and teacher are in love 'for real' and there is no pressure involved, it is still a question of power imbalance. It is very hard, if not impossible, in these instances to have a relationship where both people's wishes and opinions count as much."

The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) did not want to comment on Svenska Dagbladet's findings.

"We have no direct views on this. The National Agency for Education does not have a position on this issue… This is a political issue," said Eva Röyter, a lawyer at the Agency.

The Teachers' Ethical Council (Lärarnas yrkesetiska råd), which is tasked with encouraging a continuing debate on work ethics and with promoting professional ethics among teachers, did not want to take a stand on the issue, either.

"You can't ban love. The fact that there is attraction is not strange, but we have to think about how we handle it," said Jesper Rehn of the Teachers' Ethical Council.

Rehn does not believe legislation is the way forward or that the Council should publish guidelines for how to deal with the issue.

Asked whose role it is to draw up such guidelines, Rehn replied: "That's a good question. I don't know."

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Your comments about this article

11:26 February 10, 2013 by calebian22
"You can't ban love."

That is an odd response. I wonder what skeletons would be found in Rehn's closet?
12:41 February 10, 2013 by just a question
I strongly doubt that what the students have told is true.

Seriously, I don't think that this is true. Students will do and say whatever to ridicule the teachers.
15:01 February 10, 2013 by Frobobbles
I don't believe that, for every 100 students, there are 3 teachers who has relations with some of them. Rather, for every 1000 students, there's this teacher who is involved with 30 pupils.
17:31 February 10, 2013 by theobserver
Some students will do anything in order to get good grades. What they should realize is that, in Sweden, they don't have to offer sex to achieve this. The Swedish system is made in a way that all students pass and graduate, no matter how poor they are. So if you are a student reading this, please don't offer sex to your teacher. You don't have to do that,. Sweden has made sure that you will graduate in any case.
13:09 February 12, 2013 by geoff44
If true and not simply pupil hype, it is a little alarming to feel that some teachers think they can have a 'mature' relationship in these circumstances.Of course, it would be surprising if that is what they actually seek. However, more surprising is to learn that this is a 'political issue' according to the NAE.Not a moral issue.not an ethical issue. a 'political issue'.
17:46 February 15, 2013 by james_g
@ calebian22 - what's odd about "You can't ban love" - it's a simple statement of fact! What sort of mind instinctively reacts with thoughts of closeted skeletons...?

@ geoff44 - you should bear in mind that (in the UK at least - not sure about here in Sweden) it's quite possible for a 22 year old teacher to be teaching an 18 year old student, in which case (and even with slightly larger age differences) the ethical constraints might well be overridden, however regrettably, by the hormones! I also don't see why you should sneeringly express disbelief in the possibility that, at least occasionally, a 'mature' relationship IS what both parties are after and, indeed, sometimes attain! Yes there are plenty of instances where this is not the case, but WHY always be ready to think or expect the worst...?
15:21 March 1, 2013 by Exolon
@calebian22 "That is an odd response. I wonder what skeletons would be found in Rehn's closet?"

That is an odd response. I wonder what skeletons would be found in your closet?
02:30 March 7, 2013 by bradalreadyinuse
That is a lot of students; has anyone calculated how many? No, wait..that is a lot of tired teachers .....it is probably normal for students to fantasize about their teachers. I would not take it too seriously. Ask yourself how many times you have been honest answering a survey ... ;-) Everyone knows who the real child abusers are because there are no secrets in the long run, thank GOD!

This is the math: Wikipedia sez there are about 1.2 - 1.3 million primary and secondary students. One in thirty works out to 43K students +/-...that's a lot 'o children...hard to believe...if they have parents, that is in excess of 80K people complaining, not to mention besteforeldre (sorry for the Norsk) . Ok, I've excluded the clones, alien insemination and "spontaneous" conceptions. Cheers ;-)
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