The concept of an intimate connection between an adult and someone under the legal age of consent is something that’s not only illegal but something that often elicits outrage when such news develops.
One of the more prominent recent instances of this came in Houston, where a 24-year-old female middle school teacher was arrested for having a sexual relationship with one of her 13-year-old male students.
Alexandria Vera, who has a four-year-old daughter, turned herself in to police on June 1 after being charged with continuous sex abuse of a child. Later that morning, she was released after posting a $100,000 bond.
Rumors of a relationship between the two had previously surfaced among Vera’s students at Stovall Middle School. Known by those students as a “cool teacher” for allowing the use of cellphones in class, Vera also engaged in questionable relationships outside the classroom according to her neighbors.
Those neighbors reported numerous parties were held at her home, with empty beer cans strewn about her lawn. On some occasions, Vera was alleged to have as many as five teenage boys over at the same time.
Vera reportedly became pregnant in January as a result of the encounters. However, when investigators from Child Protective Services were called to the school, Vera reportedly became nervous and soon underwent an abortion.
The lurid nature of this crime reignited a continuing complaint about the double standard that’s often involved in media coverage of such events. That complaint focuses on the fact that when a male teacher (or other adult) is found to be in a similar relationship with an underage girl, the mentions of rape or molestation are usually prominent in such coverage.
However, when such events involve a woman and underage boy, the approach is often likened to snickering or the offering of a wry smile about “becoming a man.” In many such cases, the attractiveness of the woman is often a major focus of any story, since many such cases have involved women in the 20’s.
For example, headlines of this particular case used terms such as “had sex,” and “relationship” or referred to Vera as a “hot teacher.” Critics have charged that this and other cases are clear indications of the rape of a child, not something worth chuckling about.
Much of the societal attitude about this likely stems from past and present cultural norms. In pornographic films (and even some mainstream features), the idea of a student seducing a teacher (or vice versa) has served as a major plot focus. In addition, songs such as “Hot for Teacher” are presented in a humorous and winking fashion.
Over the last few decades, cases involving women such as Pamela Smart and Mary Kay LaTourneau have garnered massive amounts of coverage. In the case of Smart, who paid a student she was having an improper relationship with to kill her husband, the outrageousness of the crime resulted in the making of a television movie about the case.
Treating the older female-underage boy dynamic in such fashion is in contrast to the work of support groups that deal with the aftermath of such criminal behavior. One such group, 1 in 6, is specifically named to address the statistic which shows that one of every six men was been either sexually abused or exploited as a child by an adult.
The end result of such crimes is that these individuals can often struggle to develop close relationships or may attempt to ease their pain through the use of drugs or alcohol. In some cases, these men end up attempting suicide.