Illawarra high school physical education teacher Kurt Majoor 25, will be sentenced later this month after pleading guilty to having sex with two of his female students aged 16 and 17. He is currently in jail.
My son is sleeping with his teacher. He is 18. Just. Nothing happened while he was a student and not until he turned 18 – three months post school. Well, that’s what he tells me. I’m not convinced, nor does it matter, because something did happen. For two years, she was his teacher during which he was groomed and emotionally manipulated to the point of dependency. To add salt into the wound she was my colleague. Yes, I am also a teacher.
They were close. I knew he confided in her. There was a time I was grateful for this. My son, like many boys (I say boy because he was not yet a man) had a few issues. It is a tough time transitioning from teen to adult. Throw in a dysfunctional relationship with an absent narcissistic father, anger ‘issues’ and a mother who inadvertently confused his identity with conflicting responsibilities as ‘man of the house’ or ‘child’ when being disciplined. In retrospect, he was ripe for the taking.
He is a good looking ‘kid’. Tall and strong with blue eyes framed by thick black lashes that probably enabled behaviours that should have been called as a child. He isn’t flawless, he has pimples, he is, after all, a teenager.
She is an attractive thirty-year-old woman.
I enabled this relationship. My son was hurting. I couldn’t help him. She became his confidant. He became ‘happier’, he was dealing with some demons. As a mother this brought me comfort. She was smart. She ‘kept me in the loop’. Sent me little texts, letting me know that she ‘was chatting to him last night, he was pretty down, talked about his father, but she thinks they made some progress…’.
Every now and then a reassurance from me was required, ‘just checking you are OK with ‘us’ talking’ followed by the education current buzz words, ‘I want to remain ‘transparent’. And initially I was OK with it; she was a peer and past colleague; I’d probably go as far to say a friend. I began to confide in her. I told her things from his past. His pain. My pain. Our pain. It was just he and I. I believe she used this to her benefit.
I didn’t ignore the signs. I had many discussions with my son about my concerns as I noticed the shift in the relationship. Initially they were met with anger but then there was a shift to mature conversations acknowledging my concerns and assuring me there was nothing untoward taking place. I put boundaries in place. They became sneaky. He lied to me. She lied to me.
My son was in a ‘committed’ relationship with another student when she became his teacher. I didn’t think he was emotionally mature or had the resilience to deal with a serious relationship. He was dealing with issues concerning his father. I didn’t like his insecurities, the jealousy, I didn’t like the control he tried to place on his girlfriend. He had abandonment issues from his father and it showed.
When his teacher expressed her concerns regarding the relationship I was in agreement. I was worried about my son; I was worried about his girlfriend. In reflection, I can see my son’s breakup was manipulated by his teacher for her own personal gain.
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We have been to hell and aren’t quite back, eight years after removing him from the toxic environment that was his childhood home and we are still dealing with things. By his own admission he is hard but remains fragile. He loves deeply, he is loyal and instinctively he protects those he loves. He loves her. He will protect her.
How do I deal with knowing my son is in a relationship that he believes to be ‘just two people who love each other’? He acknowledges the circumstances are ‘difficult’ though he does not accept that it is ‘wrong’. His argument being that if she wasn’t his teacher it wouldn’t be an issue. He is right, it wouldn’t be an issue. But not for the reasons he thinks.
The Queensland College of Teachers, the regulatory authority for teachers in Queensland has developed the ‘Professional Boundaries: A Guideline for Queensland Teachers’. It states ‘teachers must act professionally at all times in their relationship with students. Further, ‘the teacher student relationship is not equal. Teachers are in a unique position of trust, care, authority and influence with their students, which means that there is always an inherent power imbalance between teachers and students.’
She has abused this power.
The guidelines were developed in response to the growing number of reported instances of inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. The technological world in which we now live, where relationships are initiated and develop through social media blurred the lines.
Clarity was needed. Majoor allegedly made frequent contact with one of his victims via Instagram, the other he repeatedly made sexual advances towards her and sent naked photos using Snapchat and Facebook. This led to them having sex. Tomorrow Majoor will wake up in a cell at the Silverwater Jail. Tomorrow my son’s teacher will wake up beside him.
Why haven’t I filed a report? Clearly I have no right to complain when I am not acting on what I know. These are the conversations playing out in my head daily. I am conflicted. I am conflicted as a parent. I am conflicted as a professional. I have an obligation to report what I know. I justify my as yet, non-reporting because the relationship didn’t start until he graduated and not until he turned 18. I call bullshit on myself. I am scared. I am a parent first and professional second. The health and mental wellbeing of my son are my priority.
It is not black and white. There is a very large grey area that I need to navigate to minimise the harm before I act. I know my son. This is going to hurt. Deeply. I worry how far it will push him. He is young, he will get over it, I tell myself. Yes, he probably will, but there is that small voice whispering to me, what if he doesn’t? What if it all becomes too hard? What if he goes to that dark place he has been before and doesn’t come back? Ever.
The authorities will be told. She will be held accountable, professionally and personally. And I will be left holding my son.
If you or a loved one is suffering from sexual abuse, Mamamia urges you to contact 1800 RESPECT.