OCT OEEO

PS_March_2020

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48 COLLEGE NEWS Professionally Speaking March 2020 This section provides updates on licensing and qualification requirements, notification of Council resolutions and reports from various Council committees, including reports on accreditation and discipline matters. Governing Ourselves When is close too close? Are students who look to their teachers with absolute trust vulnerable? And how vulner- able are teachers who, caring too much, are in danger of overstepping professional boundaries? Some educators, acting out of care for their students, intervene personally yet inappropriately. Others — rare though they may be — don't care about student well- being and are, in fact, "grooming" them for a future sexual relationship. The difference is intent, which is often determined by police, employers, the College and the victims themselves in hindsight. It's up to Ontario Certified Teachers to heighten their awareness to protect students and prevent professional assistance from becoming too personal. The College's most recent advisory, Professional Misconduct of a Sexual Nature, can help, as can the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession upon which the College's advice is predicated. The advisory provides a self-reflective framework to help Ontario Certified Teachers assess their knowledge and understanding, and to guide their practice. Additional guidance follows. In its landmark study Child Sexual Abuse by K–12 School Personnel in Canada, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCCP) reports that, between 1997 and 2017: • 750 cases involved a minimum of 1,272 students and 714 offenders; • 87 per cent of the offenders were male; • 86 per cent of all offenders were certified teachers; and • grooming behaviour was identified in 70 per cent of the cases (excluding cases involving child pornography). Grooming has been defined as a conscious, deliberate and carefully orchestrated approach by the offender. According to the CCCP, it involves "manipulating the perceptions of children and adults around children to gain their trust and cooperation. It is also used to normalize inappropriate behavior through desensitiza- tion, to reduce the likelihood that a child will disclose, and to reduce the likelihood that a child will be believed if they do tell." One aspect of grooming may be to identif y and target children and students who are needy, have low self- confidence or are isolated. Technology and social media may make grooming harder to detect. According to the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, "The grooming of children for sexual purposes through the Internet and related technologies is a growing problem worldwide, putting countless children at risk for sexual abuse and exploitation." "Grooming" isn't a term used in Ontario legislation and it is dif ficult to define because it can include many dif ferent behaviours. However, it does appear in profes- sional discipline mat ters, and elements of grooming behaviour are recognized in the Criminal Code. Of fend- ers prepare students for sexual abuse later by gaining their trust, and sometimes the trust of the adults around them, as well. It of ten begins with friendship, moves to touching (such as back rubs), escalates to sexual touching and creates emotional dependency leading to abuse. Consider what to look for in students and adults, and seek help or advice if you notice a combination of troubling signs. This may include students': • regular absence from school or other activities; • lying about whom they're spending time with and where; • forming an unusually close relationship with an adult; • showing off gifts or large amounts of money they can't account for; • being picked up down the street by an older, new friend; • being secretive about phone texts, calls or videos. In adults, pay attention to the frequency and intensity of behaviours such as: • fixating on one student, providing special privileges or attempting to become close to their family; • frequently initiating time alone with one student; • deliberately walking in on a student who is changing or using the washroom; • wrestling or roughhousing; • telling sexually explicit jokes or discussing sexually explicit information while pretending to teach; • teasing about buttocks, breast or genital development or about a student's clothing or appearance; • showing or exchanging sexually explicit images or pornography. Know what's going on around you. If you see something, act. Professionally, you have a duty to report when you suspect the abuse of a student. It's the law. And it's non-negotiable. PS Beware the Signs of Grooming When professional behaviour becomes too personal.

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