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San Antonio counselor sheds light on improper classroom relationships

Despite media attention, number of cases declining statewide


SAN ANTONIO - In recent history, there have been numerous national and local reports about inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. 

And while not all of the accusations turn out to be true, those that are can be extremely damaging to all parties involved.

San Antonio family counselor Clifton Fuller, who has counseled both teachers and students in inappropriate relationships, says the interaction between the two parties usually starts innocently.

“Most of these people who get involved with students (are) wanting to help them, wanting to be sincere,” Fuller said. “And then to have a student who really appreciates it, someone who worships you, someone who thinks you're great, and then the lines get blurred.”

Fuller said nowadays, it’s not uncommon for teenagers to be more sexually active than in decades past and, therefore, more aggressive in seeking out attention.

“In this day and age, when it seems that people are much more familiar, much more relaxed in their relationships,” Fuller said. “It's also true that young people students are much more sexually aware than they were in earlier times.”

According to the Texas Education Agency, the number of inappropriate teacher-student relationships has actually declined over the last few years.

The TEA reported numbers of 93 cases for the 2010-2011 school year, 86 cases for the 2011-2012 school year, and 67 cases for the current school year through April.

“Staff are held to very high standards,” said Pasqual Gonzalez, spokesman for Northside Independent School District. “When you're in the business of teaching children, the standards that you have to abide by are extremely high. Much higher than the general workplace.”

Gonzalez said his district trains teachers on proper behavior, and has strict policies in place to prohibit inappropriate actions.

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