Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In teacher-student sex case, a double standard

Underscoring the public conversation about the arrest of a female Plainfield North High School physical education teacher seems to be the double standard virtually unavoidable in sexual crimes.

Reaction might have been different, perhaps more one of outrage, some say, had the teacher been a man and the teen a girl.

The jokes and the perception that the teen male involved falls short of victimhood is not uncommon in these scenarios, said Juanita Ortiz, an expert on crime and gender and a professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

"When boys sexually interact with older women they're viewed as lucky," she said. "When girls sexually interact with an older male it's seen as them being victimized."

But that kind of thinking is shortsighted, Ortiz said. Minors of any age are not cognitively developed enough to make important decisions about sexual interactions or able to "fully understand the consequences of such actions later in their lives."

"There should be repulsion when either an underage male or female has sexual contact with an adult," Ortiz said.

Ortiz's comments were featured in a February 16, 2011, article in the Chicago Tribune.

Download a PDF of the article