In response to a spate of recent cases of illicit relationships between teachers and students, a New Jersey lawmaker is pushing legislation to curb the abuse.

Empty Classroom
Gilles Glod, ThinkStock

Senator Diane Allen (R-Cinnaminson) said she plans to introduce two bills in Trenton this week to address the issue. The first measure would make it illegal for a teacher to have a sexual relationship with a student, even if the student is 18 or older.

"We need to protect our children," Allen said.

Current law only applies if a student is 17 years old or younger.

"It would say that any child who is a student, regardless of the age...some students are 18, you may even occasionally have a 19-year-old student - it doesn't matter the age of the student, you just simply, obviously in a position of authority, have to stay away from that student," Allen said.

A second bill would require teachers in the state to undergo training on maintaining an appropriate relationship with students. The training would become part of a teacher's professional, in-service development and would be in accordance with the Professional Standards for Teachers.

It would include information on the legal and ethical responsibilities of teachers with respect to teacher-to-student relationships, best practices for maintaining appropriate relationships with students and the role of social media in appropriate teacher-to-student relationships.

Allen said she knows the vast majority of Jersey school employees are good and trustworthy people.

"We have so many wonderful people who work in schools, whether they are teachers or in other positions. And I don't want it to seem that I am broad brushing everybody because that is not the case. But there is that small group of predators, and that's the group that I am targeting," Allen said.

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