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Will people finally start taking female sexual predators seriously? | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

If Rebecca Joynes had been male, no-one would have felt a “shred of sympathy”. Such was the contention of the prosecutor in the case of a teacher convicted on Friday of having sex with two male pupils. Joynes, 30, groomed both schoolboys from the age of 15, a jury at Manchester Crown Court heard.

Making the case against her, barrister Joe Allman sought to illuminate how differently society tends to view female teacher predators compared to their male counterparts. Had Rebecca been “Robert” instead, and the complainants girls not boys, the response would surely not have been the same, the prosecutor argued.

This thought experiment was more than a courtroom flourish. There is evidence to support the idea that society does indeed view female teachers who prey on male school pupils in an alternative light to how male teachers preying on girls are seen. 

In a 2019 academic article, entitled Sexual Abuse by Educators, researchers suggested institutions may be less likely to grasp the potential for female teachers to abuse. “That over one-third of the male teachers [in a sample of 40 perpetrators] had received prior warnings due to their behaviour towards students but none of the female teachers had, was a notable finding potentially indicating a ‘gender blindness’ to inappropriate behaviour by women,” wrote Dr Andrea Darling from Durham University and Dr Larissa S Christensen from Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast.

Yet the statistics make clear that the phenomenon of female teachers who abuse male pupils is both real and serious. In a 2014 study of abuse by teachers in south-eastern US states between 2007 and 2011, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of perpetrators were female – complicating the popular idea of the “pervy teacher” as a man.

“Contrary to earlier beliefs and prior depictions of romanticism in the media, females can inflict persistent psychological and physical impacts on victims,” wrote Darling and Christensen.

In the case of Joynes, senior prosecutor Jane Wilson was unflinching in her characterisation of what had occurred. “Rebecca Joynes is a sexual predator,” she said. “[She] was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching and safeguarding children. She abused her position to groom and ultimately sexually exploit schoolboys. Her behaviour has had a lasting impact on them.”

Joynes, from Salford, had been on bail for sexual activity with the first boy when she began having sex with the second boy, by whom she would become pregnant. After going through a messy break-up, she had been “flattered” by the teenagers’ attention, the court heard.

Jurors heard how she groomed one of them by taking him to the Trafford Centre and buying him a £345 Gucci belt before having sex with him in her flat.

She was convicted of six sexual offences against the two pupils. Two of these offences were carried out when she was in a position of trust. “Joynes decided to abuse her position,” said Detective Constable Beth Alexander of Greater Manchester Police’s child protection investigation unit, again making clear the seriousness of the offending.

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