Teachers now face being struck off the teacher's roll if they have a sexual relationship with pupils.
DURBAN – The SA Council for Educators (Sace) has warned that teachers who are involved in relationships with their pupils face the risk of being struck off the teacher’s roll and could possibly never be allowed to teach again.
Sace spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu was reacting to a recent case at an upmarket high school on the North Coast where a teacher was dismissed following claims of a relationship between the woman and a 16-year-old pupil at the school.
Curro Mount Richmore executive head Samantha Smit confirmed that a disciplinary hearing had been conducted and the teacher had been dismissed.
Smit said the hearing had been finalised last week. She denied that there had been any proof that the two had been involved in a sexual relationship.
The boy’s parents had reportedly informed the school of the teacher’s behaviour towards their son.
“The hearing, chaired by an independent labour consultant, resulted in the teacher being dismissed on account of her inappropriate behaviour. Swift and decisive action was taken to ensure the protection of all parties involved,” Smit said.
Ndhlovu said they took these types of cases very seriously. “We will have to conduct our own hearing and, depending on that, the teacher will either be struck off the roll for a period of time or permanently.
“In cases where the teacher is permanently removed from the Sace teaching roll, his or her name is given to the Department of Social Development and added to the Child Protection Register. They will not be allowed near children,” he said.
Education psychologist Nicola Buhr said any sexual relationship between a pupil and a teacher was inappropriate.
“Any allegations should always be taken seriously and investigated further as criminal charges may need to be instigated.
“Educators are in a position of authority in a schooling environment and any relationship with a learner is questionable, even if it consensual, because they might not be emotionally mature to make that decision.
“The teacher’s position of authority does not make the power in the relationship equal. This occurs in consensual and in non-consensual relationships and both are inappropriate and can have legal ramifications,” Buhr said.
She said this could also have a negative psychological impact on pupils.
“It is important for parents to maintain open relationships with their children and to be aware of any changes to their normal behaviour. If you feel that something is wrong, please seek the assistance of a psychologist,” she said.
– THE MERCURY