Social construction of illicit teacher-student relationships: a media analysis
Teacher sexual misconduct has received widespread media attention. The focus of this study is to examine and analyze online news articles about cases involving teacher- student participants. The goal is to investigate how sexual misconduct by teachers is portrayed by media. Most research has been journalistic in nature. Therefore, journalists are filters for the narratives that surround each case. While sexual abuse of students is a serious issue, it has failed to garner a consolidated effort to provide preventative methods. Quantitative methods are used in analysis of the demographic characteristics, while qualitative methods are used to examine terminology in news articles. By combining content analysis with critical discourse analysis, I am able to examine data from 308 news articles involving 104 Texas teachers from 2014. Findings show that media coverage differs based on gender, race, and age of participants. Terminology in each article frames the participants in a precise manner and highlights particular details. In addition, certain types of cases receive national and international coverage, while others are ignored. Media coverage of teacher misconduct cases is a complex issue involving factors such as language, headline choices, bias, and stereotypes. Preventative measures will require this issue to be seen as a harmful social problem. Since media has the power to influence public opinion, understanding media’s role is a key component.