Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Lessons in life.

IT'S perfectly normal to be a slave to your hormones.

It's perfectly normal to think you're in love, to believe only good things happen, and life always turns out for the best.

It's perfectly normal when you are wondering who and what you are to bloom when someone who says you're special, that they agree with you, and understands all the problems you face.

It's all perfectly normal - when you're fifteen. As we get older cynicism seeps in like damp, and most of the business of adulthood is stopping it taking you over completely.

Having a pash on a teacher is almost a rite of passage, regardless of your gender or your school. Even if sex isn't involved, there will - if you are lucky - be a teacher you look up to, want to please, and earn the praise of.

It's a normal part of growing up to slavishly admire someone other than your parents who by that point in your life seem as boring as hell and want to keep you subordinate. Teachers who treat you like an adult are not only appreciated, they're a vital part in you becoming an adult yourself.

I fell in love with teachers a couple of times. One was young and absolutely beautiful and stood out among the ranks of middle-aged men with dandruff, and I would stare at him for whole afternoons and not hear a word he said. Another was very clever and treated me like his star pupil, so I wrote awful poetry and moped around after class.

Nothing ever happened with either of them, because I was the kind of teenager with braces and NHS specs who found the world was much nicer if viewed from behind a curtain of hair and a book. I spoke only in grunts and when I was in love I made no sound at all.

But at that age love explodes like a bomb, whereas when you are older it is something you negotiate. One is indiscriminate, and the other is very discriminating indeed.

Teachers know all about that sort of thing. Apart from the ones with really bad dandruff they all get it at some point and most can differentiate between a favourite pupil who stands out more than the others, and a confused, hormonal child who can be led to the bedroom.

There is always one who can't, though.

Megan Stammers disappeared last Thursday along with her married teacher Jeremy Forrest, who was under investigation by education bosses. They seem to have fled the country to France before the authorities could uncover their seven-month romance and put a stop to it.

Police and their families want them home safe, and there are people all over the country saying "well it's not kidnap" and "she's almost an adult" and "we've all been there, haven't we?"

Well, we've probably all fallen in love with someone we shouldn't have, but how many of us ran away from home, broke up a marriage and went on the run?

Not many. It's extremely unusual, just as it is that a 30-year-old married man thinks it's reasonable behaviour to take a child put into his charge by her parents and skip the country to escape the consequences of his actions.

And his actions, when you look at them, are shattering.

Jeremy Forrest was in loco parentis - he was paid by the state to look after children and teach them things their parents couldn't. He has destroyed that trust not just in Megan's case but that of the hundreds of other pupils potentially in his care.

He enabled a child to leave her safe and happy home, causing the parents who have cared for her since birth unspeakable anguish and worry. There's a bed that's not been slept in for five nights as her family can't sleep or eat and jump every time the phone rings.

He has persuaded a child into an inappropriate relationship. Whether it is sexual or not is almost neither here nor there - the potential for Megan learning the wrong things about how men and women, adults and children interact is enormous.

It would be easy to draw parallels with high-profile relationships, like Michael Douglas marrying a woman 35 years his junior, any of Rod Stewart's affairs, or 32-year-old Caroline Flack dating a 17-year-old Harry Styles.

But Flack wasn't his teacher, nor did she help him run away from home. Catherine Zeta Jones is an adult with the experience to know when the man she's with is acting reasonably towards her. Rod Stewart has done his share of inappropriate things but never, so far as we know, with a child.

Jeremy Forrest's job is to teach Megan and children like her how to think for themselves, with a side order of keeping them safe.

Yet the only lesson she's learning is how to upset a wife, how to distress her parents, and how to put yourself under the control of someone who's not worth the trust placed in him. She's being taught how to run away from problems, avoid consequences, and put her faith in fantasy.

It won't last of course, because they'll be found eventually, he'll be sacked, the police will get involved and his wife will want some answers.

Then Megan will learn what heartbreak feels like, how you can never take things back, and how long hurt can last. She'll feel sorrow for her parents and embarrassment among her friends, and if she's sharp she'll see there's a difference between schooling and grooming.

Forrest probably won't. He will more than likely continue to put his feelings before others', be a slave to his hormones and think that he's perfectly normal when in fact he's trying to keep hold of his own youth by stealing someone else's.

Which is perfectly normal - for a paedophile.

There are no practical lessons.

42 comments:

Matt said...

"He has destroyed that trust not just in Megan's case but that of the hundreds of other pupils potentially in his care."

And also helped destroy the small trust male teachers currently get. Few teachers these days are male and stories like this do not help as all it does is cause people to be suspicious of all the hard working, dedicated ones who do care about there students well fare and education.

Also whatever happened to the rules 'half your age plus 7'? It may be crass but a very good rule to avoid feeling like a dirty old man (as I felt at times during the Olympics/Paralympics after finding out how old some competitors were - when did people get so young?).

Anonymous said...

Highly likely that he married the first woman that ever showed an interest in him, then struggled to deal with it when he got interest from Megan. Thought the media's portrayal of paedophiles is generally of the grotesque, awful older men grooming very young girls, who are completely and utterly beyond contempt and comprehension; I suspect the tail of a relatively young man who has had very sparse previous female interest falling for a teenage girl is not as uncommon as you may think.

The fact that he was a teacher AND he ran away with her makes him ultimately culpable and his actions completely inexcusable and criminal.

pirate said...

You need to look up what paedophilia is and the do the same for Hebephilia or Ephebophilia. Especially in light of what the average age of glamour models are.

Nic Wiseman said...

Bang on the button as usual.

Ken Haylock said...

Just for accuracy, and because you seem to be conflating two issues and possibly getting one of them confused, he's obviously not a paedophile. A paedophile would be sexually attracted to a prepubescent or peripubescent child. A post-pubescent 15 year old is legally speaking a child, but biologically speaking, an adult. Finding a post-pubescent 15 year old sexually attractive is definitely not un-natural or perverted, since a 15 year old is no less or more likely to be sexually attractive to a random adult that finds women attractive than a 16 year old, an 18 year old or a 20 year old. If she had been 16 years and 1 day old and a pupil at a different school to the one he taught at, I'm not even sure there would be a law he could be prosecuted under! Nevertheless, I doubt many people would consider the behaviour acceptable for a teacher. By contrast, even if she had been 18 year old 6th former, and him her 22 year old newly qualified teacher, nobody would be (wrongly) accusing him of paedophilia, but the breach of trust issue would be absolutely the same.

30 year olds seducing 15 year olds are rightly castigated and prosecuted, but they aren't paedophiles, they have just demonstrated criminally poor impulse control.

Jim said...

You are jumping to conclusions somewhat. Not that i am saying for an instant what this teacher has done is right, but if you define paedophile as someone who has a sexual interest in children, there is no evidence of that as it stands.

Foxy said...

See above reply.

Foxy said...

Those terms are not in common use, which is why I went with a 'catch-all' use of the word.

Foxy said...

That's not quite how you define it, but regardless my point is that the qualities and characteristics he has displayed thus far would also be demonstrated by your average paedophile.

pirate said...

It is n't the catch all term Paedophilia is specifically "sexual interest in prepubescent children". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia The difference is important as far as an illness goes as the purpose of sexual relation ships is breading. This is brach of a cultural convention not a biological imperative. You also need to look at this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_Europe not condoning what he has done which is a gross breach of trust.

AlbionLass said...

As long as she's safe and gets home eventually then I don't have much of a problem with what's happened. As long as Forrest doesn't make a habit of it. I hope they're both having a great time and am somewhat envious.

Socrates said...

Is it time to make the cliched, 'female teacher, male pupil = tabloid "Wahey!!", male teacher, female pupil - tabloid "String him up!" headlines "gag" yet?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Harry Styles 18 and Caroline Flack 32?

Anonymous said...

What is 'breading'?

Jared said...

Come on you nit-pickers stop with the "Oh but he's not a paedophile", malarchy. As the kids (almost) say - apologists gonna apologise, philatelists gonna philatelise.

James said...

He isn't a paedophile. "Pirate" is right. The "catch-all" term is Chronophilia - specifically Ephebophilia in this case, I would suggest. Really enjoyed the article by the way.

Schemie in the Newtown said...

If a child of mine was groomed like this, they wouldn't need a lawyer, they would need an ambulance.The age is irrelevant,Police don't steal,Fireman don't start fires and teachers don't take inappropriate advantage of their pupils.

Lucy McCarraher said...

Actually your average paedophile doesn't feel or display romantic interest in his prepubescent prey and is therefore unlikely to run away with her. Your piece is right in every other way, but this is a different kind of obsession. I knew a married teacher - and suspect there are others - who made a habit of falling in love and having affairs with teenage (girl) pupils. He eventually got one pregnant and left his wife to "do the right thing" (haha) and marry the girl. Then after she'd borne him two children as his wife, started up again with other younger girls, at which point she sensibly divorced him. It was - and is in the current case - appalling behaviour, but it can be some kind addiction similar to, but not the same, as paedophilia. Filiaphilia, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

What some of you seem to have forgotten is this: He has to, by British law, have a CRB check to work with 'children'.

Anyone under his care, be they 5 years old or 16 years old are classed as children.

It doesn't matter that she's 15 years old, he's broken the trust which exists between himself and his students, the state (that employs him in a job involving trust) and he's also destroyed his marriage.

Personally, i think he should be banned from ever working with anyone under the age of 18, BUT, if Megan decides she still wants to be with him when she legally becomes an adult at 18, fine. That'll be her decision, not his.

I don't think he's going to get a job in britain again, even the private schools won't want him...but maybe the catholic church will...LOL

Anonymous said...

Never ever seen any stories about policeman breaking laws?

stirlingole said...

You can debate word definitions all you like but Mr Forrest:

ABUSED his position of trust as a teacher and as an adult
ABUSED the trust this child and her parents (& the School & Society) Put in him
ABUSED Megan by causing her first 'love' experience to be based on lies, deceit and dishonour
ABUSED his wife by causing the first year of her marriage to be enmeshed in his lies deceit and dishonour
I would think Mr Forrest is a thoroughly inadequate person.

Anonymous said...

Was going to say the same thing. I'm afraid the FleetStreetFox is a tad hysterical. The girl isn't a child and knows as well as he does that they are both doing the wrong thing. This guy's life won't be worth living after this primarily thanks to similar hysterical ravings. Other European countries have far more pragmatic approaches to the issues of the age of consent. This country is so sexually repressive it's tragic.

Anonymous said...

Its when you take the middle bit out of a slice of breast and then place it over something. Quite an unusual sexual desire, but at least it's on the less damaging end of the scale.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. I imagine the real story is simply that she was struggling in French and he agreed to help her learn the language... Poor fellow to have such damning views assumed of him.

Anonymous said...

He has to, by British law, have a CRB check to work with 'children'.

A CRB check is only going to find a problem if there has been a charge previously.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that there are people who consider this acceptable. How old was this child when the 'relationship' started? He must have been grooming her long before the 'relationship' began therefore the man has an inappropriate interest in children and debating semantics detracts from the issue that a child has been abused. Grow up!
WHF

jaffamonkey said...

While I think it's important to differentiate between teacher/pupil affairs, and two grown legal adults in a relationship with sizable age difference. Pedophilia is a big word to be bandying around, and very careless talk from the "bring back hanging" brigade. A teacher/pupil affair is not a new thing, and the teacher's behaviour is very morally suspect. But I also suspect it is sensible to wait for full story and facts before jumping the gun with your lynchmob mentalities. I can tell from many of the comments, that commenters are struggling with the sensitive topic. Therefore quickly dissolve into hysteria and stating the bleeding obvious. What use are over-emotional statements from supposed adults in this situation? At least fleetstreetfox has written an article both interesting and sane. Most of the commenters here belong on youtube comment forum. Yes, that bad.

Buddha B'der said...

My only hope is that him 'being sacked and answering his wife' is the worst that happens. God forbid the worst possible outcome...

ChatRabbit said...

Terminology does not detract from the point that this is a breach of trust. It is inappropriate for a teacher to engage in a romantic relationship with a pupil - the fact that the pupil is below the legal age of consent aside.

My heart goes out to the parents, who must be frantic with worry and positively nauseous at the thought of their child bumping uglies with her maths teacher.

Indigo said...

Megan is a minor. Forrest has removed her from the care of her legal guardians without their consent or knowledge, ie he has abducted her. Everything else is irrelevant.

Forrest will be going to prison, if he is caught, and I am sure he knows that. The longer they are not found, the more gloomy I feel about the outcome for Megan.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine why a man in his position would be attracted to a fifteen year old with so little life experiences or how someone who takes on the role of a teacher could ever imagine having an intimate relationship with a pupil. I feel it's wrong no matter what their ages are for a teacher to become personally involved like this. He encouraged her to run away judging by his twitter comments - a move that no doubt satisfied her ideas of fantasy and romance. He has abandoned his wife, career and has no respect for Megan's family or thoughts about what's best for her future - surely the priority of a mature partner would be for Megan to finish her education, learn how to become independent etc.

Anonymous said...

I was in a relationship with a man 14 years older than me when I was around 14. This article and comments bring up a lot of the confusion that I still carry from it. Where are the places on the internet that provide support for people like me? It is all about sexual abuse of younger people or people who were forced to do things, rather than people who were groomed. And the age of consent thing in other countries makes it even more confusing. This triggers a lot of feelings for me.

S Mazzle said...

Interesting views expressed from male readers screaming in unison 'it's not paedophilia' so that because they don't agree with the terminology, it absolves this despicable man of falling for a young girl. Not woman, girl. He would have known her pre-15, once she gets to 16 he'd probably lose interest - he is, after all, attracted to a child.

Men joke about 'jailbait' - to anyone with any moral fibre, they'd realise these girls are our daughters, sisters and nieces and they need protecting from abusers like Jeremy Forrest - and from any man or woman who thinks what he did is OK.

For all those dirty old men that toot their car horns when they see girls in school uniform, do be assured those girls pity you as you drive by.

Anonymous said...

It happened at my all-girls school 20 years ago. He was in his early 40s, she was in his GCSE class. It broke up his marriage and we all thought he was a geriatric creep having a mid-life crisis but they're still together and happily married. I wouldn't be happy if it was my family involved but he may not actually be a fully fledged paedo

Ken Haylock said...

The age of consent is a legal concept, not a biological one. 16 is just a number, of legal rather than biological significance. 'Positions of trust' and 'in loco parentis' are social and legal constructs, not biological imperatives. What matters in terms of what is 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' sexual attraction is post-pubescent versus pre-pubescent. What this man appears to have done may be ten kinds of illegal and immoral, but it's not either 'unnatural' or 'perverse'. In other times and/or places, it wouldn't even be illegal!

Anonymous said...

hardly if one doesnt debate social issues such as this, and understand the reasons for the criminal actions, then the law becomes irrelevant. Indeed not so long ago 2 children killed a toddler named James Bulger, they were tried in an adult court and sentenced as adults and held criminally reponsible for thier actions, so the debate must be what is a child? who defines childhood? and to what extent does interation with children and adults become defined by social convention.

Anonymous said...

First and foremost he's a teacher - of children between the ages of 11 and 18. He met Megan in his capacity as a teacher, but I don't care if he met her in capacity as a teacher, a mate of her dad or in the local newsagents, as any reasonably minded adult he knows there is a legal and moral burden of responsibility on his part as he furthered his relationship with her. Best case scenario: as the "adult" in this relationship he really shouldn't have a problem with her getting in touch with her family and should be actively encouraging her to get in touch, knowing full well the damage which is occurring back home, and the wake up call which is on its way to them both.

DW said...

He deserves a damning view!! He is....was a teacher, he is fully aware of his professional obligations, if not his moral ones. He has betrayed that trust and also the trust of male teachers in general. The school will suffer, as perhaps they should, but when located, whatever the final outcome, he will be going to prison. He might still avoid that if he returns her promptly.

Anonymous said...

He's attracted to her young, fresh, tight 15-year-old body, don't you think? That's precisely why the "love is blind" argument really doesn't hold up here. The guy has absolutely nothing in common with her and absolutely no basis to feel they've got a future together. He knows this isn't going to end well, I mean what kind of ridiculous happy ending can he possibly have in his head? He's taken her off to France to fulfil decades worth of sexual fantasies, and when the pervert returns and loses everything it'll probably all seem worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

It happened with a female teacher of mine in her early 30s, with a 2nd year 6th former. She left the school on a leave of abscence, husband turned up at the school and caused a scene, there were rumours, student finished his A-levels, went off to university - 15 years later they're living together with three kids. Still one of my favourite teachers ever.

Anonymous said...

I'd say you're still pubescent at 15 years old!

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece...Yes, according to all common usage, Forrest is a paedophile. Isn't Forrest stupid too - thinking he could 'run away' and find cash-in-hand work to support his schoolgirl girlfriend in that mysterious foreign country which is, er, France... Has to be said that Megan's parents don't come out of this with much dignity either. Do we believe that they 'didn't know' the police were investigating Megan's relationship with Forrest? No.

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