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Journal Article


Anderson A, Wingrove T, Fox P, McLean K, Styer E. J. Interpers. Violence 2018; 33(9): 1449-1471.


University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA.


(Copyright © 2018, SAGE Publishing)






The present study investigated mock jurors' (N = 541) perceptions of a hypothetical case of teacher-student sexual contact. Mock jurors read a brief vignette describing an alleged sexual encounter where the gender and age of both the teacher and student were manipulated. Participants rendered legal decisions (i.e., verdict, degree of guilt, and sentence length), as well as culpability judgments pertaining to both the teacher and the student (i.e., blame, cause, and desire for the sexual contact). In addition, the effects of mock juror gender and attitudes regarding both rape myth acceptance and homophobia were investigated. Teacher gender and both teacher and student age predicted mock jurors' recommended sentences, with male teachers, older teachers, and younger students leading to greater sentences. Overall, student age was most consistently related to multiple culpability judgments, and the culpability judgments regarding the victim were the most consistently predicted by the independent variables. We did not find any evidence of homosexist attitudes, meaning that same-gender teacher-student contact was not judged any differently than opposite-gender contact. Worth noting, we found an interaction such that male students victimized by female teachers were judged to have wanted the contact more than any other gender combination, especially by male participants. The authors discuss these findings in the context of the child sexual abuse (CSA) literature concluding that many of the findings of more prototypical CSA cases extend to the teacher-student context. We also discuss the implications of these findings in terms of gendered judgments of adolescents who are victimized by teachers, possibly decided by legal professionals, school administrators, and jurors themselves. In particular, the three-way gender interaction can be interpreted in the context of stereotypes regarding sexual development marking sexual contact between adolescent males and older females as a "rite of passage" into adulthood.

Language: en


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