OCT OEEO

PS_December_2019

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33 December 2019 Professionally Speaking Professional Misconduct of a Sexual Nature BY BRIAN JAMIESON N inety-nine per cent or more of Ontario Certified Teachers (OCTs) should never have to read the updated professional advisory Professional Misconduct of a Sexual Nature. That's because fewer than one per cent would ever have a complaint made against them. Ever y day, College members live the profes- sion's ethical and practice stan- dards. The mere thought of abusing a student is beyond their ken. In any given year, fewer than a couple of dozen people have their teaching licences revoked for sex-related crimes against students. But, it's for that reason, that 100 per cent of the College's 233,787 members should read the advisor y avidly and be well informed by its content. (You will find a copy of the advisor y in this edition of the magazine.) "Ontario Certified Teachers have a responsibility to conduct themselves according to professional standards, provincial law and the Criminal Code," says College Registrar and CEO Michael Salvatori, OCT. "The advisory reminds OCTs of the ethical, professional and legal parameters that govern accept- able behaviour. More importantly, it aims to prevent the sexual abuse of students, those entrusted to us to teach and safeguard." The College's initial advisor y was distributed in 2002 to all College members in response to a recom- mendation by former Justice Sydney L. Robins's repor t following the criminal conviction of former Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., teacher Ken DeLuca for sexually assaulting 13 female students over 21 years, beginning in the late 1970s. Addi- tions made to the advisor y in 2008 reflected changes in legislation that helped to clarif y the reasons for allegations of professional miscon- duct against members. The latest version honours the purpose, if not the language, of the original advisor y. It also addresses recent changes in the law that fur ther define the reasons and penalties for professional misconduct of a sexual nature. The advisor y is founded on the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession and the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession. The document defines sexual abuse of a student by an OCT according to the Ontario College of Teachers Act. It also uses the Act to define sexual misconduct. Sexual abuse of ten involves behaviour of a Updated advisory demonstrates the teaching profession's vigilance against the sexual abuse of students. sexual nature directed at a student or students. Sexual misconduct, on the other hand, typically involves behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature that is not directed at one or several students. Rich with footnoted sources and examples, the advisor y includes several snippets from actual College discipline decisions. Members of the College hold a unique position of trust and authority and are responsible for maintaining appropriate professional boundaries with students at all times, Salvatori says. "Boundary violations aren't always apparent. Awareness of the professional relationships that respect the boundaries between students and teachers is key."

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