Is it ever appropriate for a teacher to touch a student's buttocks?
I saw this in The Stir - Do you think this teacher should have been fired for what happened?
When you think of ways to break the ice with someone new, there's telling a joke. There's sharing a story or pictures of your pets. And then there's -- massaging someone's butt? A teacher found out the hard way that perhaps this isn't the best idea of how to break the ice -- especially when the butt you're massaging is that of a student. In front of the whole class.
Brooklyn teacher Celestine Sam was fired after reportedly bringing a male student up to the front of the class during an "icebreaker routine" and giving him a massage. And then having him reciprocate. And reportedly that massage extended to each other's rumps. Oy vey.
The exercise was apparently inspired by the teacher's time in a workshop of potential missionaries. Her father defends her by saying, "It wasn’t justified what they did to her. All she was trying to do was break the ice -- she didn’t touch anybody."
But a judge disagreed and ruled that Sam "exhibited poor judgment by engaging in an activity involving physical contact with a male student’s buttocks."
If this did happen, the fourth grade teacher showed incredibly bad judgment. What on earth could she have been thinking?! The boy, who was 9, was “embarrassed and upset during the massage," according to the judge's report.
Perhaps she just lightly patted him on the butt? Still wrong. Perhaps she didn't really touch his butt but just massaged him? Still wrong. If this was a male teacher who touched a female student in that way at all, there'd be all kinds of outrage.
There's a whole list of things teachers might have been able to get away with at one point, but probably couldn't now. A couple from my experience: A teacher who screamed at me and told me to get out of the room. I was made to stand in the hallway while other classes exited and all the kids laughed at me. Can only imagine the lawsuit I'd have today for "extreme emotional distress."
Oh, and there was the time a teacher, talking about childbirth, said, "Women are really stupid. Childbirth would be so easy if they'd just exercise throughout their pregnancy." Man, what I couldn't do with that intel today.
I feel sympathy for teachers who are stuck trying to simultaneously teach, bond with, control, and discipline their classrooms. But touching a kid in any kind of manner that could be misconstrued as sexual is just asking for trouble.
Do you have any memories of teachers doing stuff that would get them
fired today? Should this teacher have been fired?