Young love

As we know from that bit of the media which isn’t still raking over the Andrew Mitchell non-story and the waste of time which was the Liberal Democrat party conference, a 15-year-old girl has eloped to France with her maths teacher.

Cue much wailing as well as pleas for her to come home and him to give himself up.

As she is under 16 the word ‘paedophile’ as well as various slang terms have been used online, if not by the media. It is, of course, the wrong word to use as she is, in terms of sexual development anyway, mature. If the teacher really does prefer partners in this stage of life then the term is ‘ephebophile’.

A teenage girl being attracted to an older male is not a story. As a general rule they tend to prefer older boys and men simply because the boys of their own age are usually behind them on the maturity curve.

Given then that developing teenage girls in the UK (and the developed world) tend to spend a significant part of their lives in schools and that schools will likely have at any one time several young-ish male teachers, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that sometimes the object of a girl’s affections will be her teacher.

Most of the time it will remain just a crush, one that the teacher may well be unaware of, and will go nowhere. There are times though when it will go further and I’d be surprised if there is a secondary or upper school in the land in which a relationship between a pupil and a teacher hasn’t taken place at some point.

I can think of one definite example from my days in the sixth-form* attached to my secondary school and there were persistent rumours about one of our humanities teachers*** involving a number of female pupils. In neither case, to the best of my knowledge, was any action taken against the teachers concerned.

Some will rail about the age of consent and how, because the law has imposed a legal age of 16, sexual congress with anyone under this age is an issue whilst waiting until the day of their 16th birthday isn’t. What they forget is that they themselves were young once and that the idea of the law telling you on which day you were able to make the beast of two backs with your partner may well have been as meaningless to you as the laws about when you could drink and/or smoke. Or perhaps, depending on personal preference, even the laws surrounding narcotics today.

Indeed the Telegraph has reported that the French police aren’t actively looking for her because the age of consent on the other side of the Channel is 15 and thus there is no crime taking place.

(Across Europe the age of consent is generally between 14 and 17 years of age, with the outliers being Spain at 13 and Turkey at 18.)

The sin in such circumstances is not that girls involved are 14 or 15 but that the teachers, who are In loco parentis, breached the trust placed in them by the families of the pupils and their employer.

By involving himself so comprehensively with Megan Stammers, Jeremy Forrest has destroyed whatever life he might otherwise have hoped to build in the UK. Assuming he does come back to these shores he can look forward to a criminal record, an entry on the sex offenders register, potentially some gaol time and the inability to ever work or act as a volunteer in any position which requires a CRB check to be performed. And, I would suspect, speedy divorce from his jilted wife.

Megan, who is unlikely to be an entirely innocent party, will likely get away scot-free.

* We were both going through 6th form together and he was one of our maths teachers. Barely out of university himself, he was no more than 8 years older than us and the relationship between the two of them ran for a couple of years or so. The first that the rest of the students knew about it was when we were in pub celebrating the end of our lower-sixth** and they spent a reasonable part of the night tonsil tickling. We certainly didn’t tell anyone about it and they kept it discrete (he didn’t show up on the 18th birthday party circuit for example). She showed up at my 18th wearing an engagement ring whilst only 17 herself at the time (she was the only person in the year younger than me IIRC) and my mum pestered me for sometime to say who it was. I eventually told her after my younger brother left the school 3 years later.

** Obviously none of us were 18 but we were all drinking and no-one was asked for ID.

*** The closest I got to the truth was over a beer with a mutual friend some years later when I found out tha he’d got married. Jokingly asked if it was to one of his former pupils, my friend smiled and said no.

19 Comments

  1. Demelza says:

    A college friend of Mrs D is married to one of her former teachers. He is quite a few years older than her: the romance started while she was still at school, in the sixth form, and her friends knew and kept it very low key while they were still at school. They went public shortly after she left school, and married some while later—the marriage appears (as much as you can judge any marriage looking from the outside) to be happy, successful and has been fruitful. Amusingly the wife is (and presumably was at the outset) some 4-6 inches taller than the husband.

    As for the P-word, the popular press have four new horsemen of the apocalypse: Terrorism; Paedophilia; Immigration and Copyright Piracy. Whatever the story, Jeremy Forrest is now forever labelled a paedophile and is ruined.

    • JuliaM says:

      And we can thank the European Arrest Warrant again – the initial French response was a Gallic shrug…

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      Aside from the breach of trust, their other ‘crime’ is a ridiculous lack of common sense in failing to keep the relationship, if not secret, then low key. That was asking for trouble. Eloping just compounded the error as it gives the authorities the ability to throw the book at him rather than just suggesting that he should quit teaching and find another line of employment.

  2. Paul Coombes says:

    Your analysis of Jeremy Forrest’s prospects should he return to the UK match entirely with what I would have expected. Given that he is a mathematics teacher* then we must credit him with enough intelligence to have worked this out for himself. This then leaves us with the question of why didn’t he just wait. At 30 years old he should have got over the part of his life where his libido overrules his common sense, so I am surprised that he has embarked on what appears to be short-term fulfilment for what will inevitably turn out to be long-term distress.

    * I must admit to being biased as I am a mathematics graduate.

    • Incunabulum says:

      Any 30 year old man who allows himself to get romantically tangled up with a 16 year old is far, far away from having control of his libido.

      • Paul says:

        I totally agree with you Incunabulum.

        My thanks to misanthrope girl for a more balanced view of this mess than one is likely to see.

  3. Bucko says:

    You always have to look to the blogosphere for an open and objective assessment of an emotionally turbulent story like this one. Well written.

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      Thanks. Apologies for the delay in this appearing but it got caught in the spam filter.

  4. johnd2008 says:

    There is nothing new in this. I left my grammar school in 1954 , the same year that one of the women teachers ran off with a pupil from the 5th form. They later married as soon as he was old enough.

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      Indeed not. It is though treated more harshly these days – at least in part I suspect as response to the ‘peado-panic’ hysteria which has held sway for many years now.

  5. jess says:

    My own feelings are one of disinterest.

    However, due to compulsory sofa restrictions, I’ve taken up reading the Daily Mail for spectator sport, and the story certainly sustains several column inches of vexation.

  6. Don says:

    I’m not so sure about Megan getting off “scot-free”.

    – She’s had her name and face plastered all over the papers for the best part of a week now, as well as “starring” on Crimewatch last night. So for the rest of her schooldays and possibly her student days as well she’s going to be identified as the girl who eloped with her maths teacher. Which will give her a good reputation or a bad one according to her fellow-students’ point of view. At the very least I’d imagine she’ll have to change schools.

    – She’ll have a small army of social workers, child psychologists and god-knows-who-else crawling all over her for months on end, in an attempt to make sure that the proverbial “lessons are learned”.

    – Last but not least she’ll have her mother and the rest of her family watching her like a hawk for evermore in case there are any signs that there might be a repeat performance.

    It’s a better deal than Jeremy’s admittedly – but I can’t help feeling they could be forgiven for thinking that for the moment anyway, they’re better off where they are.

  7. jaded says:

    Megan will sell her story in a Sunday paper very soon and as soon as she’s old enough she will be in the Jungle or on Celebrity Big Brother.
    The future for the teacher however will be far from bright.

  8. Anna Raccoon says:

    Excellent post Clarissa, had I read it first, I might not have bothered with my own…

  9. Gildas says:

    Indeed. a thoughtful post. These cases are not black and white, and the French response was and is, I think interesting. C’est la vie. I understand that the sometimes laid back Gallic plod can move with ruthless efficiency when the need arises, and monitor hotels, boarding houses and so forth with a keen eye. One can but wander if they did not take a somewhat sceptical approach to the Daily Mail type hue and cry of their Anglo Saxon neighbours!

  10. MicroBalrog says:

    It fascinates me with what fastidiousness those discussing some kind of ‘forbidden relationship’ in the press avoid using the word ‘love’ in its context.

    Consider the possibility – not distant, but so far confirmed by what we know they wrote and said about their feelings – that, at least for a while, Megan Stammers and Jeremy Forrest were in love with each other – perhaps loved each other. Mere libido could be sated by having an affair in secrecy – but perhaps, just perhaps, they were for a while in love.

    That could explain some of this behavior.

    Still I am perplexed: what did they expect to achieve by running away? Did Forrest not realize he’d be eventually tracked down?

  11. jameshigham says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephebophilia

    Never heard that one before. Live and learn.

  12. pavel says:

    Ouch, I thought the age of consent is 14-15 in the civilised world (like Germany, Estonia, Italy, France, Russia before 2003): it is just wrong to make it illegal for a 14-15 years old boy/girl, who earns enough to buy condoms to have sex with his/her 1-2-3-4-5-10-20 years older boy/girlfriend! It is not always about 14-15 years old girls and 30 years old male-teachers, after all young people can have interests other then school – but here it is the usual “one law fits all”, which also hits the poor: a 30 y.o. school teacher earns enough to travel with his 15 y.o. girlfriend to have sex in France, but what are the chances for a 15 y.o. boy to earn that much or have a well-earning girlfriend? Of course one can suggest “to wait”, but what the girlfriend decides to choose an older partner?
    And poor immigrants from Iceland, where the average age of first sex is 15.6 years, they’d have to wait in the UK for 5 months!