Over at the Guardian is an interview with a 26 year old female teacher, who has been found guilty of sexually abusing a fifteen year old school boy. Although the maximum sentence for the offence is a five year jail sentence, Shelley White avoided prison. Now, the teacher and student didn't have sex, but only 'snogged' (slang for kissing, if you didn't know) and the interview describes the affair (which basically amounted to a few snogs in a school cupboard). The case raises some interesting questions. An extract:
"We think the older female who initiates the young boy in sexual activity is doing them some kind of favour," says Dr Lisa Bunting, author of NSPCC report "Females who sexually offend against children". Jacqui Saradjian, a clinical psychologist and author of Women Who Sexually Abuse Children, believes we just can't picture women as abusers. "If you have a 14-year-old girl and a nearly 30-year-old man, then you'd think it was an assault. But if the victim's a boy and the predator a woman, we don't see that as an assault. So why is it different? We find it very difficult to picture the people - ie, women - we put in the caring, nurturing role as also the people who are committing abuse."
Over at Fark is a story which is almost the complete opposite of this case and is much more disturbing. Apparently a woman in the US is accused of given permission for her boyfriend to have sex with her 15 year old daughter. The police have a written agreement between the mother and boyfriend, permitting the sex, because the mother was afraid that the boyfriend would leave her.
It is certainly necessary to legislate against adults abusing children. But here we have two stories which show that no amount of legislation will eliminate the problem (if only because you can't detect mother's trying to sell their daughters in their own home). In the UK the age of consent is 16 and the school-boy admitted pursuing the female teacher, who was young (only 23 at the time) and inexperienced (both personally and professionally). Compared to the case of the mother prostituting her daughter, Shelley White's case seems positively tame and I wonder whether it was worth the effort in prosecuting?
Having been a school boy and being a man, I have sympathies for Shelley White and the school-boy. It is a fact of life, that sometimes the heart and genitals lead, where the mind knows it shouldn't go. Unfortunately this is human nature. But a lack of age of consent would leave the door open for much younger children being abused by adults - something which is the responsibility of society to prevent. Our ancestors did not abide by any such law of consent (and throughout history men and women have had sex with children of all ages, with varying degrees of approval). But just because our ancestors did it, doesn't mean we have to! That Shelley White will not be allowed to teach again, is probably for the best (if only to teach her a valuable lesson). Kids. Are they really worth it?Go Top