According to Gov. Greg Abbott’s State of the State address this year, Texas leads the nation in teacher-student sexual assaults. And yet, in many of these cases, there either are no criminal charges levied, or the perpetrators end up with deferred or reduced sentences. An investigation by the Austin-American Statesman found the following out of 686 cases:
- 53 percent of teachers involved in improper relationships with students are never charged
- 40 percent are charged and convicted or given a deferred sentence
Between 2010 and 2017:
- 160 teachers charged with improper relationship with a student received deferred adjudication, a similar penalty to probation
- 84 were sentenced to prison or jail time
- 27 teachers were not indicted or had their charges dismissed
- Only 26 lost or surrendered their teaching licenses
- Of those 26, only 12 were charged with a related crime
Are Improper Teacher-Student Relationships on the Rise?
The Statesman reporter could not determine whether these improper relationships were on the rise. The Texas Education Agency cites social media as one of the large reasons why these relationships are either rising, or we are simply hearing more about them. With so many different social media outlets in use, it is easier for teachers to develop more personal relationships with students without oversight from other adults.
Additionally, it is not always easy to prove that a teacher-student relationship is actually improper. Something like a single text message might not provide the clear-cut proof needed to implicate a teacher. And it is also unclear whether schools are actually reporting alleged abuse when they discover an improper relationship, despite the legal obligation to do so.