Preserving Professional Student-Teacher Boundaries: Case Studies

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This handout of boundary case studies complements the “Essential Concepts” handout with more than twenty realistic examples. Also included are sophisticated questions that stimulate discussion in small groups and push participants’ thinking about boundary best practices.
Updated annually; fifteen pages. (All donations fund scholarships.)



A few notes prior to reviewing fictional case studies:

  1. We may start by discussing a few cases as a group. Time permitting, we’ll examine other cases that interest you.
  2. Discussion beyond our allotted time today—with colleagues, any time in the coming weeks—is strongly encouraged.
  3. When reading and discussing case studies, consider what, if any, boundary has been crossed or violated. Focus on your reaction—including any defensive reaction—to the particulars of the case.
  4. Consider how the case would be different if the characters in the vignette were older or younger, the opposite sex, a different ethnicity, etc. How, if at all, might this change the boundary issues? How would your reaction change?
  5. Although most cases focus on teachers and students, the boundary issues apply at some level to all adults who work with young people, such as school staff, camp staff, coaches, trainers and health care providers.
  6. Specific details (names, departments, demographics) are arbitrary, diverse, fictional and exist for narrative value only. The details are not meant to represent actual entities or groups. Some are irrelevant and may be designed to distract you from the central boundary issues at play.
  7. Detailed questions for discussion appear on page 5 of this booklet. You may wish to glance at those questions before reading more cases.