A Legal Perspective on Sexual Grooming Behaviours as Professional Boundary Violations





educator-on-learner sexual grooming, law and policy, professional boundary violations, South African Council for Educators, South Africa


A literature review revealed that sexual grooming can be counteracted in public schools by focussing on educators’ professional boundary violations. However, there is a scarcity of literature where sexual grooming behaviours are linked to professional boundary violations and on the handling of these behaviours from an Education Law perspective. Such information would be most valuable to school principals, departments of education, bodies overseeing the teaching profession and forums and courts that consider cases dealing with educator-on-leaner sexual grooming. In this article, the author not only links typical grooming behaviours with professional boundary violations but also considers the law and policy that governs it, and which would apply when dealing with such as a breach of the South African Council for Educators Code of Professional Ethics, and or misconduct. Sexual grooming behaviours are associated with the violation of professional relationship boundaries which protect learners from abuse of power and trust, inappropriate communication, educators exceeding their tasks and roles, educators physically abusing learners and educators invading learners' personal space and privacy. To allege that an educator has committed a professional boundary violation it is essential to distinguish between boundary violations which are acceptable and boundary violations that are inappropriate and part of sexual grooming. The author suggests a test that can be used to make this distinction and that would make it possible to deal with boundary violations before a sexual grooming pattern forms. The article is concluded with recommendations inter alia to rephrase section 17(1)(f) of the Employment of Educators Act 76 of 1998 so that it would be unambiguous and be able to cover sexual grooming as a form of serious misconduct.


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Author Biography

Susanna Abigael Coetzee, Unisa

Susan A Coetzee. BA Ed BEd MEd DEd (UNISA) Certificate Programme in Law LLB Advanced Short Course in Outcomes-based Assessment in Higher Education and Distance Learning and Learning Program: Foster and Maintain Customer Relations. Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Management, University of South Africa




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How to Cite

Coetzee, S. A. (2024). A Legal Perspective on Sexual Grooming Behaviours as Professional Boundary Violations. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 27, (Published on 31 May 2024) pp 1–33. https://doi.org/10.17159/1727-3781/2024/v27i0a16890




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