Students’ accounts of grooming and boundary-blurring behaviours by academic staff in UK higher education

Anna Bull, Tiffany Page

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    Abstract

    Drawing on data from qualitative interviews with students who had attempted to report staff sexual misconduct to their higher education institutions in the UK, the article analyses interviewees’ experiences of ‘grooming’ and boundary-blurring behaviours from academic staff where the possibility for consent was affected by the power imbalances between staff and students. The term ‘boundary-blurring’ is used to describe behaviours that transgress (often tacit) professional boundaries, and ‘grooming’ refers to a pattern of these behaviours over time between people in positions of unequal power. This article analyses the power imbalances interviewees described that created the context for these behaviours. These were constituted by social inequalities including gender, class, and age, as well as stemming from students’ position within their institutions. The article also explores how heterosexualised normativity allows such behaviours to be minimised and invisibilised.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1057-1072
    Number of pages17
    JournalGender and Education
    Volume33
    Issue number8
    Early online date19 Feb 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

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