Resources for Educators
The recent news explosion regarding sexual assault cases in the entertainment industry, politics, and massage naturally means we will be having these discussions in our classrooms and on our campuses. Are you using this opportunity to discuss ethical situations in our own industry, or simply bashing the giant corporation bad-guys? That might be harsh, but we really need to think about how to use this situation in an educational way, understanding that many of your graduates may go on to work in a franchise establishment. How do you handle this delicate, but important, topic?
This doesn’t have to be a discussion about sexual assault specifically. We all know what touch behaviors are appropriate and not appropriate. There is a big difference between an accidental boundary crossing (which still could result in a client having an intense reaction – especially if the client has been assaulted in the past) and a criminal act. This can be a discussion about the ethical dilemma for the front desk person, or manager, or clinic/spa owner, or coworker who receives the report of inappropriate conduct. This can be a discussion about having policies in place to support those employees in making good decisions with the information they receive. This can be a discussion about the difference between unethical behavior and illegal behavior and who makes that decision.
Give a background on policies and procedures, if you haven’t reached that point in your curriculum yet.
- Review examples of internal company policies and client interaction policies.
- Review examples of client and personnel complaint procedures.
- If you have a student clinic on your campus, review your own policies for handling these types of situations.
Discuss client rights and expectations.
- Review how an establishment can help clients have appropriate treatment expectations, given the intimate nature of touch therapies.
- Review client rights, and the establishment’s responsibility to ensure their safety.
Discuss the difference between inadvertent boundary crossings and clear violations.
- What are the parameters?
- Who determines whether it is a crossing or violation?
- How do you conduct a proper investigation to be sure that the practitioner didn’t accidentally cross a boundary?
Discuss what to do when the complaint sounds like an assault. Here are some potential questions to ask yourself, as a caring human being in a difficult situation:
- Is the alleged victim in a safe environment?
- Have they been encouraged to contact the police?
- Should you offer to help the alleged victim contact the authorities?
- Should you contact the authorities?
- Has management been notified so that they can take proper steps to protect additional clients and begin an investigation?
[The Ethics of Touch and Business Mastery are excellent tools for these discussions and to encourage further study both during school and after graduation.]
You may hear statistics that say those 180 sexual assault accusations occurred over a 15-year period among the 125 million massages that were given in that time period. While statistically that may be a relief, remember that most assaults in any situation go unreported (whether at a business or private practitioner’s office). And, there are many cases that get settled out of court that we will never hear about. Try to avoid discussing these details. The point is… if a crime has possibly been committed, in any situation, the victim should be encouraged to contact the authorities immediately. In fact, if you are not prepared as an educator to stand firmly on the side of the potential victim, you should get out of massage education right now.
School Administration Discussions
The massage profession does not support or promote inappropriate behavior. Unfortunately, the intimate environment just happens to give predators a better chance at the opportunity. Can we, as educators, take a stronger stand on who we let into this profession? Many people say you cannot tell a predator when he or she is sitting in your admissions office enrolling in your program. However, are there signs during the 6 or 9 or 12 months that student is on your campus? There may or may not be any signs, especially if the predator is particularly skilled at deception. If there is any doubt, and certainly if there is any evidence or accusation during their training, the educators must take action before this person attains a license and has the opportunity to hurt someone. How strict are your student conduct policies?
The safety of everyone involved (clients, practitioners, students, and educators) is at stake here. We must take responsibility when we have the opportunity. By the way, this holds true whether you are part of a school or run a massage business. Don’t miss the opportunity to address this subject on your campus.