The vast majority of the British public say relationships between teachers and students under or of-age are unacceptable – but the nation is divided on whether of-age relationships should be illegal
Teacher Jeremy Forrest has been found guilty of abducting a fifteen year old schoolgirl – a pupil who says she “still loves him” – after a sexual relationship developed and they evaded police in France. There has been widespread media outrage and pockets of indecision. But a new YouGov poll finds that the vast majority of the public say all teacher-student relationships are unacceptable.
YouGov asked the public if relationships between teachers and students under the age of sixteen are acceptable - and the vast majority (80%) say they are “always unacceptable”. Only 13% say they are “mostly unacceptable” and almost no one (4%) says they are acceptable.
On legality, the public feel the same: for teacher and underage student relationships 82% say they should be illegal and only 12% legal.
For relationships between teachers and students aged between sixteen and eighteen, the only difference is in degree: 52% say they are always unacceptable, while 31% say they are mostly unacceptable. But on the legality of these currently legal relationships, the public are divided: 47% say they should be legal and 40% illegal.
Teaching unions say relationships of this kind are rare. Anecdotally, the poll finds that about one in six (16%) say they were aware of sexual relationships between teachers and pupils while they were at school.