Old Enough to Know Better

Earlier this week I was reading some online commentary about the teenager, Megan Stammers, who ran away with her teacher Matthew Forrest. Why I read these things, especially when they make my blood boil, I will never know but here goes anyway.

Good luck to them, if they’re in love as they seem to be then let them be the only thing real and tangible in this crazy world is love

– Thomas, Liverpool, 25/9/2012 6:17

 

15 is old enough. She looks much older and a woman at 15 is not a child. A girl at 12 would have several children in the cave age and many girls marry at that age. She should be allowed to marry the man if she wants. I dont see the indignation.
– bluemarin8104, london, United Kingdom, 25/9/2012 1:19

 

the school has a job teaching subjects such as math. getting involved in students social life is not their damn business

– Gary young, Dong guan, 25/9/2012 4:17

OK so they came from one particular newspaper but in reality this was a running theme across many newspapers.
So here is my simple take on it.

1. When you as a teacher/youthworker/educator are put in a position of care to educate and nurture a minor (anyone under the age of 18) you have a duty of care. This is why we have CRB checks.
2. It doesn’t matter if you think love is blind, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 clearly draws lines of acceptable behaviour between adults and minors.
3. Too many people dismiss abuse of trust and inappropriate behaviour from teachers/youthworkers/educators as nothing. This is wrong. Parents send their children to school (or after school lessons) as was in this case to be educated and not groomed.
4. Many of us who work with young people have encountered those with crushes on them. Especially when someone has that trust in you it is our responsibility not to break that trust with a minor by stepping over the line.
5. The teacher knew he was wrong and had abused that trust and was going to be suspended. He is not the first and will not be the last but not only should the school have a duty of care to protect the child, but it is important that teens/youngesters themselves know when to call the line on what is clearly inappropriate behaviour.

For those of us who have witnessed way too many people who have become victims of predatory behaviour in some cases to the extreme, having had to console young people and their parents, it is important we keep this mantra that workers and educators are old enough to know better. If as a worker we engage either in mentoring or other support of more fragile youngsters we do so (or should do) with the explicit permission and understanding of the minors parent or guardian. It is implied we are working to their best interests too so it is painful when another who abuses that trust.

My heart goes out to the parents of Megan Stammers and I hope she returns safely. Ironically she will only be recorded as a missing person in France/Spain as the age of consent in those countries is 15 and as such he is not considered a criminal suspect. Finally my heart also goes out to the wife Mr Forrester left behind. That shit must hurt.

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