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I-Team: Social Media And Teacher Sex Abuse

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve
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WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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BOSTON (CBS) – We trust our children to teachers every day, but recent headlines of sexual abuse are putting many parents on edge.

One man who was sexually abused while in middle school told the I-Team he is still scarred by what happened. “I am a lot more scarred. The anxiety is overwhelming. Sometimes there are fears that people are going to be able to tell that this happened.” This so called “John Doe” says the abuse started when he was 13 years old and he became the focus of a female teacher’s affection.

The highly publicized case of Rachelle Gendron is another stark example reminder of what can happen after class in a Massachusetts school. Gendron is charged with beginning a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old male student. At the time, she was a Sex Ed instructor at a charter school in Fitchburg. She is now charged with rape.

Last June, a chemistry teacher at Milton High School was charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student. The I-Team poured through records from the Massachusetts Department of Education and found one troubling case after another. Among the dozens of cases, there was one in which a teacher was accused of sexual relationships with two of his female high school students.

Many admitted to have sex with students. Others signed documents surrendering their teacher’s license. One teacher did that after being cited for an inappropriate relationship with an eighth grade female student.

Tom Scott of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents said, “What we do see is that there are more and more cases where people have crossed the boundary in how they engage students around some of the social networking areas.”

The I-Team found one case in which a teacher was charged with at first sending flirtatious text messages, and then having sexual intercourse with a student. “What we see today is the result of technology,” said Scott.

Scott told the I-Team his organization encourages school districts to have strict policies involving social media, like prohibiting teachers from using personal cell phones and email accounts. “That’s crossing the line when you start using your own personal equipment to do that,” explained Scott. “That is something we don’t have the ability to monitor.”

In Gendron’s case, texts and photos from personal phones were uncovered. The prosecutor said they found pictures with “her breasts exposed, sent to the child in this case.”

Mary Lou Sudders, chair of the Health and Mental Health Department at Boston College believes we are seeing more inappropriate relationships today.

Sudders also blames social media as the cause and says parents need to be on guard. She said parents should make sure teachers are not using personal accounts to contact their children.

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

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