An ethical assessment of teacher/pupil sexual relationships: A case study of six selected schools in Mpongwe District of Zambia
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The study aimed at ethically assessing the forms, perceived influences, and effects of male teacher/ female pupil sexual relationships in Zambian schools. The study involved three secondary schools (one day, one co-education boarding, and a single sex girls boarding schools) and three primary schools from Mpongwe. Though there have been a lot of reported cases of teacher/pupil sexual relationships in schools, with some ending up in courts of law, incidents of such cases continue unabated. A case study design adopting a qualitative research methodology was used to collect and analyse data. The methods involved primary and secondary data. The primary data was collected using in-depth interviews, semi-structured questionnaires, and Focus Group Discussions. Secondary data collection involved relevant literature from the journal articles, internet, books, and newspapers. A non-probability sampling technique was used to select the participants for the study. One official from the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocation Training, and Early Child Education HQ, one officer from the District Education Board Secretary and six School Head teachers were picked by virtue of their positions and interviewed. 24 teachers purposively sampled were interviewed separately. Others interviewed included 12 parents from the school Parent Teachers Associations and three Teacher Union officials. Focus Group Discussions and questionnaires were used for the purposively sampled 51 pupils, making a total sample of 98 participants for the study. Utilitarianism, deontological and virtue ethical theories were used to ethically assess the forms, and perceived influences and effects of teacher/pupil sexual relationships in schools and guided the collection of data. The study revealed that teacher/female pupil sexual relationships in schools are widespread, and that both male teachers and female pupils contribute to such incidences. The relationships take many forms which include the use of suggestive sexual language and gestures, fondling of female pupils breasts and patting on their buttock, and sexual intercourse between teachers and pupils. Influences, among others, include lack of adequate boarding school facilities, love of material things by pupils, and the search for academic favours. Teacher/pupil sexual relationships in schools affect not only pupils and teachers but also the education standards and society at large. The existing code of conduct is not effectively used as it is too general to the public service and lacks specific reference to the teaching profession. The ethical evaluation concluded that both male teachers and female pupils contribute to accelerating sexual relationships in schools as they do not consider consequences and nature of their actions. This study might contribute to an ethical understanding of the problem between male teachers and female pupils sexual relationships in schools and possible solutions. The research therefore recommends that a clear code of ethics for teachers be put in place, MOESVTEE needs to scale up sexuality education in schools to empower the girl-child with decision making skills on matters of sexuality. Schools also need to sensitise parents through PTAs on the long term effects of teacher/pupil sexual relationships in schools.
The University of Zambia