INTERVIEW: Teacher-Student relationships

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – We are continuing to follow the case of a Hanover couple convicted last night of sex acts involving students. Craig and Angela Linnon both worked for the school system. Unfortunately it's not the first time we've heard about a case like this. And it's one reason why the Virginia Board of Education issued new guidelines to prevent sexual misconduct.

Our education specialist- Doctor Bill Bosher is here to tell us why much of the attention is on social networking sites.

Diane Walker: It's always a pleasure to have you on the four.

Doctor Bill Bosher: Thanks, Diane.

Diane Walker: Some disturbing testimony came out in this trial and really an eye-opener for many parents. Case in point, there was supposedly, according to testimony, a text message sent from the shop teacher to a student trying to arrange a sexual encounter, an oral sexual encounter with his wife. Is this the tip of the iceberg?

Doctor Bill Bosher:  I don't know how many professions you can besmirch in one act, but you got a teacher, you have a nurse - the tragedy in these kinds of behaviors is we've seen it in the church; we've seen it in lots of places.

Diane Walker: Right.

Doctor Bill Bosher:  And for young people, it's reprehensible. The question of texting and whether or not that's the motivating incident, this week there's a Washington state case where a high school teacher had a new student to come in, young man, he was having trouble. She talked with him, and then that led to phone calls and then 800 text messages over the next 30 days and then a sexual encounter.

Diane Walker: Should texting be banned between teachers and students?

Doctor Bill Bosher:  I think we focus on the behavior and the repercussions of the behavior. To me, the punishment should be permanent, never teach again. You've got to have the consequences. However, if it had not been texting, it would have been a phone; it would have been a note.

Diane Walker: Right.

Doctor Bill Bosher: And you don't eliminate phones and notes. People are going to find a way to convey the message.

Diane Walker: If they have no moral judgment, yes.

Doctor Bill Bosher: That's right. It's all about -- you can't build walls high enough and thick enough to protect against perverted behavior, but you should have consequences in place that deal with them when they occur.

Diane Walker: Right. But the goal of these new guidelines, of course, is to protect the student from teachers who obviously don't have the proper judgment, when you come to situations like this, but how would those guidelines actually protect the student?

Doctor Bill Bosher: Well, in earnest, the Department of Education has had several hundred of these cases. I used to hear the cases when they came to the state, plus the thing you didn't want to hear was the teacher comes back a few years later, says I want my certificate back and the response is, I married her. Well, you shouldn't have been seeing her to begin with because she was under your charge. But they're trying to raise the consciousness of school divisions to say to teachers, be careful about the conversations that you have with young people, and particularly in terms of social media. Although I don't think social media, facebook, twitter --

Diane Walker: You can't place the blame on social media. It's people's choices.

Doctor Bill Bosher: That's right, that's right. But they're trying to say, lets beware and let's be careful and they're doing it by, saying to localities, create policies that will help teachers understand the rules.

Diane Walker: Thank you, Dr. Bosher for joining us. We appreciate it very much.

Doctor Bill Bosher: Thank you, Diane.

See the video at right for the full interview.

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