Most school teachers disciplined in the Canadian province of Ontario for sexual transgression are males.
Their offences include possession of child pornography, inappropriate e-mails, sexual assault on minors and romantic relationships with high school seniors.
While more than two-thirds of teachers in the region are women, 92 per cent of those found guilty by the Ontario College of Teachers college were males. Of the 190 teachers so disciplined, only 14 were women.
That makes the arrest this week of 33-year-old Brookfield High School teacher Jennifer Lynne McCalla on charges of sexually assaulting and sexually exploiting one of her students an extremely rare case.
"(Cases involving teachers) are very few and far between," said Dr. John Arrowood, a psychologist who works in the law and mental health program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. "If it's a teacher — and it's rare — the most typical case would be a male teacher who is sexually assaulting young children."
The Ontario College of Teachers is a regulatory licensing body founded in 1997. Its disciplinary committee is an arm's-length body that holds hearings into complaints against teachers for professional misconduct and incompetence. In the case of guilty findings, the committee posts its decisions on the college's website, Kate Jaimet reported for Ottawa Citizen.
An analysis of those decisions from 1998 to the present shows that, in the vast majority of sexual or romantic transgressions, the teacher's licence was revoked. And in 101 out of the 190 cases, the teacher involved was also convicted on criminal charges through the courts.
Considering that some of the cases go back to events from the 1990s, 1980s, or even further in the past, the number of teachers involved is small, said Brian Jamieson, spokesman for the Ontario College of Teachers.
"When you go back and you put that into the context of the 220,000 members that we have ... it's a tiny fraction of the profession. The overwhelming majority of professional teachers in the province conduct themselves as professionals, ethically and in practice," he said.
"It's our job as a regulator to act on those allegations of professional misconduct, and we do. We take it very seriously."
"We might ... find that person's actual preference — their first choice of sex object, if you will — is a young child."
The same is not true for teachers who engage in relationships with older teens, he said.
"The typical case is a teacher imagining they're having some sort of an adult romantic relationship with an equal," he said. "Even though, of course, in a teacher having a relationship with a student — even if they're 16, 17, 18 —there's a big power differential that they're probably not paying close attention to."
Even if the teenager appears to consent to a sexual relationship with a teacher, it can leave psychological scars, Arrowood said.
In the disciplinary committee's case record concerning William Douglas Walker, a York district teacher whose licence was revoked in 2001, a woman who had a sexual relationship with him when she was his student in Grade 10 testifies to "a sense of deep sorrow at the loss of my youth and my trust."
She continues: "Every day I am embarrassed at how I was taken in by this twisted man. I feel dirty and tainted by the exploitation of my childhood ... I was used and discarded."
Teachers, like all those in a position of power, must avoid crossing the boundary between personal and professional in their relationships with students, said Dr. Rajiv Bhatla, psychiatrist in chief at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group.
The records of the teacher's college show disciplinary measures have been taken against teachers for overly personal discussions and e-mails to students, even if no physical contact ever occurred.
It may seem innocuous, but many times sexual relationships begin with seemingly innocent gifts and messages, Bhatla said.
"Any boundary violation is an ethical issue," he said.