More common or more reported?
A Mobile math teacher is convicted of having sex with a teenager. A fifth-grade teacher is implicated in Pell City. A foreign language teacher is charged in Tuscaloosa. A Sheffield Junior High School teacher, in a car, having sex, with a 15-year-old.All of the accused are women. In fact, about one-third of the cases of possibly inappropriate relationships investigated by Alabama education officials in 2013 involved women."It may not be happening more, but now there's more punishment,'' said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at UAB's School of Public Health. "We don't know those incidents that aren't being caught and aren't being reported."Social media, authorities say, helps to fuel the fire."Cell phones. Apps. We say and do things on social media and cell phones that we wouldn't say and do in person,'' said Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey who, on Monday, announced a guilty plea in the case of a Susan Moore High School teacher who admitted to sexting (sending nude pictures via text message) to a 15-year-old student. "As a result, there's a wall that's been removed. Things people would never say to a person they now will say over the phone or on Facebook or things of that nature. We just live in a different world."A 2010 law made it a felony for a school employee to have sex with a student 19 or younger. (Other Alabama laws had set the age of consent at 16). Since then, high- profile cases were brought against women teachers on charges ranging from sodomy to rape of underage students. More are under investigation.Between 2008 and 2013, there have been about 150 cases of inappropriate relationships reported to the Alabama Department of Education. These "relationships" include not only sexual intercourse between a teacher and a student, but also inappropriately romantic or sexual communications between the two, said Susan Tudor Crowther, an attorney in the Office of General Counsel for the Alabama Department of Education.For 2013, 66 percent of those complaints involved male teachers, while 34 percent involved female teachers. Are the numbers on the rise? It appears so, said Crowther who recently wrote an article for a trade publication called "Hot For Teacher: When Good Teachers Go Bad.""It is not clear why they appear to be on the rise. It is possible that we are simply getting more reports of such behavior,'' Crowther said. "In 2010, a law was passed criminalizing sexual relationships between teachers and students. This may have prompted increased reporting. "Before the infamous 1997 case of Mary Kay Letourneau, who twice became pregnant by her 12-year-old student and eventually married him in 2005, such prosecutions seemed rare.