Ontario English Catholic Teachers

Internet Chat Rooms


A teacher has called his local OECTA unit president. He has been participating in an internet chat room where he developed a seemingly promising relationship with a woman. During their correspondence, which lasted some six weeks, he revealed various details about his own life. Some of these conversations pertained to his (and her) sexual proclivities and interests. When they agreed to meet for coffee, he provided his name to the woman who turned out to be one of his teenage female students. She revealed this correspondence to her parents, who have demanded that the board fire the teacher for inappropriate behaviour.


The unit president recommends that the teacher call the OECTA Provincial Office, which will put him in contact with legal counsel. The unit president reminds the teacher not to discuss this matter with anyone else. If the school board should move to discipline or dismiss the teacher, the Association will provide him with support during the grievance or arbitration process.


This is an interesting case because it arises from the new technologies which permeate our lives. Implications arising from knowing or not knowing the age or identity of a correspondent on the internet, while very new, are issues for the law, particularly as they involve questions about a teacher's fitness to teach.

By now, everyone (apparently except the teacher in this case) knows that the rule of mouse is "caveat surfer." Expect that no one on the internet is being more honest and forthcoming than you are. Indeed, anonymity and freedom to fantasize are often what attract people to chat rooms. 

As the teacher in this case learned, however, stepping back out of the chat room immediately reveals the truth, with all the implications that has for consequences in our real lives.