Chivalry Isn't Dead: Gender Differences in the Media Treatment of Teacher Sex Offenders Open Access
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Through a comparative examination using content analysis of 50 online news articles released from January 2005 to June 2009, this study evaluates gender differences in media portrayals of teachers that are accused of committing sex offenses with minor students. Findings show that gender does play an important role in the media treatment of offenders; females receive more news coverage than male sex offenders, female offenders are treated as mentally ill lovers as compared to a male "predator" portrayal, and females are treated more leniently than male teachers who commit sex offenses with minor students. These findings support the chivalry hypothesis of female deviance which purports that because women are viewed as weak and vulnerable, they are treated in a more patriarchal lenient manner. In addition to contributing to the current literature, this study addresses how societal perceptions of sex offenders are being shaped by media and the consequential implications on victim reporting practices and the criminal justice system.