The music teacher and the teenage lesbian
A judge yesterday jailed a (now former) music teacher for fifteen months for carrying on a lesbian affair with a 15-year-old pupil at a posh girls’ private school in London. The affair involved stays at the teacher’s house and a weekend trip to Paris in which they attended that city’s gay Pride march, and when the police raided the woman’s house, they found various toys including handcuffs, and they also found dozens of text messages to each other on each of their mobile phones, some of them sexually explicit, but the one from the teacher quoted in this article read, “It’s going to be a beautiful day. I love you. You are on my mind all night”.
For obvious reasons, I don’t approve of homosexuality. Nor do I approve of teachers carrying on sexual relationships with pupils, because the teacher is in a position of authority and there is the danger of corruption and favouritism, not to mention what might happen when the pupil decides he or she no longer wants the relationship with the teacher to continue or even does not want certain acts to take place. However, I do feel rather sad for this couple and I don’t share the outrage, such as has been expressed on Vanessa Feltz’s show this morning, that the pair will be allowed to continue the relationship. The prosecution asked that the teacher be banned from being alone with under-age girls, and also that she be banned from contacting the girl for five years, but the judge refused both requests.
Let’s face it, in five years’ time, the girl — who is nearly 16 now — will be nearly 21. That is well above the age of consent. Even below 16, I do not share the sentimental and patronising attitude that teenagers are incapable of informed consent and are in the same need for protection as an eight-year-old. When teenagers commit crimes, although there is some protection such as not naming them in the press for anything but the most serious of crimes, they are still held accountable for their actions. Why then, when they get laid, are they presumed to be victims? There is no victim here. It is significant that the “victim impact statement” that was read out in court and quoted by the Daily Mail came from the girl’s father, and the affair was only investigated after an anonymous email was sent to the school, ostensibly by a parent. The girl is not a victim, but a willing participant.
Fifteen-year-olds are not innocent. They are often quite vicious to each other, and especially to younger people than themselves. They are often put in positions of authority over peers and younger pupils themselves (I don’t want to say ‘other children’, because they are not children). I remember being that age more readily than some of these adults who rush to condemn this woman seem to do. I also remember that the “protection” I received largely consisted of being prevented from doing things, such as going out to town without supervision (I am talking about boarding school here; I was allowed to do this at home); I wasn’t protected much from other boys, who posed a far more immediate danger to me than any “undesirable” in the outside world. Research has shown that society is willing to apportion part of the blame for rape to the victim based on what she was wearing, but when a 15-year-old girl carries on a relationship with a 26-year-old, she is presumed to be the victim and the older partner is treated as some sort of predator. In many countries, girls get married at that age, and people do not suddenly become any more mature when they turn 16.
Don’t get me wrong: I do think what this teacher did was wrong. She only had to wait a few months, and if she was that desperate, she could have found another job and continued her relationship with the girl when she turned 16 (the age of consent is 18 when one party is a teacher and the other a pupil). However, this is not a case of molestation, which is when someone is subjected to unwelcome sexual attention, and I do know what that’s like. I’ve written about it, and the excuses people make for it (particularly as regards boys) before. If that is what this was, I would support more than the level of punishment this woman has received. In this case, it’s a relationship which is illegal because of what it could have led to, but in the event appears not to have done. I would support a suspended sentence and a removal from teaching, but not an immediate prison sentence.
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