“Any act, including, but not limited to, any verbal, nonverbal, written or electronic communication or physical activity, directed toward or with a child or a student regardless of the age of the child or student that is designed to establish a romantic or sexual relationship with the child or student. Such acts include, but are not limited to: (1) sexual or romantic invitation; (2) dating or soliciting dates; (3) engaging in sexualized or romantic dialogue; (4) making sexually suggestive comments; (5) self-disclosure or physical exposure of a sexual, romantic or erotic nature; or (6) any sexual, indecent, romantic or erotic contact with the child or student.”
Note that “sexual misconduct” is not limited to sexual contact or criminal behavior, but rather includes “grooming” behaviors that are a precursor to an inappropriate relationship. An inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student is usually the result of a prolonged process of gaining trust, blurring boundaries and desensitization. Common grooming behaviors include: taking an undue interest in a student; giving gifts or special privileges to the student; getting the student out of class repeatedly to visit the teacher or inviting the student to come to the classroom at non-class times; being alone with the student in private spaces; complimenting the student’s appearance or body; engaging in peer-like behavior with the student; talking to the student about matters that would normally be discussed with adults (e.g., marital and other personal problems, sexual experiences, etc.); telling the student secrets and having secrets with the student; contact with the student beyond the school day; using e-mail, text-messaging, or websites to discuss personal topics or interests with students; engaging in talk containing sexual innuendo or banter with students; telling sexually-explicit jokes; or hugging, kissing, or other physical contact with a student.
A child or student will NEVER be deemed to consent to engage in sexual misconduct or sexual abuse or exploitation regardless of the student’s age.