Dr. Michelle Golland: Marla Gurecki-Haskins, 37, has been accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student at a school in New York. The teacher allegedly performed oral sex on the male student in a classroom during school hours.
It seems like almost every day we are hearing about another teenage boy being seduced into an "affair" with an older woman who is his teacher, coach or friend's mom. Make no mistake: These women are sexual predators, and it is high time our society starts treating them as such.
The cycle of emotional and physical damage caused by this type of abuse will last a lifetime if not worked through in therapy. As a society, we have in the past chalked this behavior up to "young boys just getting lucky," with people saying things like, "I wish I'd had a teacher who wanted to have sex with me!" But these are simply ill-informed statements that show a total disregard for the true fallout for these boys.
First, you must know that the women who fall into the "teacher/lover" category of female sexual offenders are highly manipulative and groom their victims in ways that are similar to those of male sexual predators. They pick vulnerable kids who are looking for attention and approval that may seem lacking within their own home environments.
These women believe that they have a "special bond" with the child and usually don't think they have done anything wrong at all because it was "love." The motives behind the sexual offenses are, typically, a desire to teach the boys sexually and a longing to obtain love and attention from them.
These female sexual predators want power and control and admiration from their victims. The young prepubescent or adolescent boys are easily manipulated due to their own lack of self-esteem and the confusion and insecurity that many teens experience. The fact that adolescence is the time when children pull away from their parents and want to forge new identities makes teens easy prey for these abusive women.
How can we protect our sons? We should, as much as possible, thoroughly know who our boys are spending time with outside of our presence. If there seems to be too much interest from one adult, then question what is going on in that relationship. Many parents of victims report having had suspicions but say they pushed them aside because it was a female and not a male teacher or coach.
It is our job to be vigilant and protect our children. We should also demand that these women are sentenced on a par with their male counterparts. We need to bring this issue to light and create awareness, in order to give hope to the victims of today and help past victims receive the assistance they need.