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article imageSocial media blamed for sexual teacher/student relationships

By Arthur Weinreb     Jun 5, 2016 in Crime
Houston - Inappropriate relationships between teachers and students are on the rise in Texas and legislators and others believe social media is to blame or at least plays a part in this increase.
There are calls for new rules governing the use of social media by teachers with their students and it is possible this problem will be addressed by the Texas legislature during their 2017 session.
Last Wednesday, Houston teacher Alexandra Vera, 24, surrendered to police after a warrant was issued for her arrest. It is alleged she had a sexual relationship with one of her students that began when the boy was 13 years of age. Court documents indicate they had sex on a regular basis and the boy’s parents not only knew about it but approved.
It is also alleged Vera became pregnant with the boy’s child in January. She, the boy and the boy’s family were excited about it but she had an abortion after she was questioned by Child Protective Services.
Vera has been charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child that, upon conviction, could lead to a sentence of 25 years to life with no possibility of parole. Vera appeared in court on Friday and was released on $100,000 bail. The terms of release are she must wear a GPS monitor, observe a curfew, and have no contact with the victim or any minor other than her younger brother. She is forbidden to use the Internet and must stay away from all schools. Vera is scheduled to return to court on July 12.
The personal relationship between Vera and the boy is alleged to have begun after the student contacted her on Snapchat.
Vera is not the only recent high profile case in the state. Digital Journal reported a math tutor is alleged to have had a sexual relationship with one of his 17-year-old students. Although that was not illegal he faces child pornography charges after the girl sent him topless pictures. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted.
Between Sept. 1, 2015 and the end of last month, there have been 162 investigations begun by the Texas Education Agency into what may be wrongful conduct by teachers with their students. This compares to 188 cases for the entire previous fiscal year. According to the agency, the number of investigations has been increasing in the state over the previous five years.
Kathy Tortoreo, with the Family Support Services in Amarillo, said, “In the past you may not have had students choosing to interact socially with a teacher. Now they’ll friend them on Facebook or they’ll reach out to them on Snapchat.”
The blame is being put squarely on the teachers, not the students. Christina Green, the director of the Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, told a House committee that these instances must be prevented early, during the grooming period so abuse can be prevented. Boundaries have to be set regarding teachers' interactions with students on social media.
More about inappropriate teacherstudent relationships, teachers having sex with students, Child abuse, Social media, Facebook
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