East Texas parents and counselor respond to rash of teacher misconduct cases

East Texas parents and counselor respond to rash of teacher misconduct cases
(Source: KTRE Staff)
(Source: KTRE Staff)

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Another East Texas teacher has been arrested for an improper relationship with a student. East Texas news headlines have seen at least five teachers in the past month getting arrested, in trial, or headed to trial for getting much more than an apple on their desk as a symbol of appreciation.

"It makes you wonder who is in charge of your children. That's got to be a bad phone call to get," said Justin Farr, an East Texas parent.

Twenty-three-year-old Kallie Boxell was booked into the Rusk County jail after a Grand Jury indictment for having a relationship with a student at Tatum Middle School. If convicted, Boxell could get up to 20 years in prison.

"In the mental health profession, we are very concerned because we are seeing more and more teacher-student inappropriate relationships," said Dr. Debra Burton, a licensed counselor.

"They're an adult. They should be able to uphold themselves better than that," Farr said.

One thing common in most of these cases is the use of texting, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. All of these mediums of communication didn't exist 15 years ago.

"Social media is one of the biggest culprits. This allows a student and a teacher to have private conversations," Burton said.

"I see people say, 'Where were those teachers when I was in school?' If it was your little girl or boy, how would you really feel?" Farr asked.

Parents are feeling uneasy due to the reoccurring problem. Studies report Texas has the highest number of these incidents in the country.

"The incidences went up 41 percent," Burton said.

"It seems like they put their brains on hold. It just doesn't make sense," said Jerry Selman, an East Texas parent.

"Teachers are supposed to be professional and shouldn't even interact with them in that manner," Farr said.

Burton said often times, the attraction between students and teachers creates an addiction.

"They have a need to be wanted or feel attractive, and that starts meeting their needs," Burton said.

In most recent East Texas cases, there has been a shift to women being involved the sexual misconduct. Burton said despite double-standards, young males are just as affected and are just as much victims of abuse as well.

"I see the outcome of this," Burton said. "Sometimes, that young man struggles with addiction, pornography addiction, and looking on sites to find more women to talk to."

Her message to teachers is, "It's really important to get a message out there. One, teachers have to keep boundaries."

She encourages parents to monitor their children's social media and cell phone usage.

"They need to know, I need to know your passwords. I'm not going to always look, but when I think I need to, I will," Burton said.

A 2014 study says 35 percent of sexual misconduct cases in the country involved social media use.

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