Okay, I will admit before I even start that the title of this post is totally inappropriate given the serious nature of the topic, but I couldn't think of anything that was more fitting, so there you have it.
Here's the deal; we've all had that teacher or student teacher that we thought was so cute, right? The vast majority of us just think of it as a harmless crush that we think of fondly as we grow up and see what real relationships are all about. But what about those kids whose reality is so much different? For the girls and boys whose affection for their teacher puts them in the position to be victimized, it's a tragedy indeed. I heard today that the very object of my student crush had 'been busted' for sexual abuse, which involved allegations of sexual relationships with at least four students.
I just felt sad. Sad for those girls whose vulnerability was capitalized on, sad for his wife and family who have to be humiliated by this revelation of a man that they obviously didn't really know (or, if they did were just as culpable) and, selfishly, sad that my fond memories of this person are now dashed. At first I looked online to find out if it was in the allegation stage, what the actual charges were, etc and it became more and more clear that this was for real. The guy was my facebook friend for crying out loud! Correction, was my facebook friend because it appears he's no longer on it. Shocking, I know.
Last week he pled guilty to charges which are much less severe than the original charges, leading me to believe it was a plea bargain, which also leads me to believe that he has a lot to lose if they were to go to trial. The whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach. But what made it even worse was that when I started to enter his name into google, numerous hits instantly pre-filled.
As I read some of the entries, I thought that it was crazy how the information age has really just given another platform for the town crier. I don't care about his feelings in this, because his choices to have relations with his students that were not only morally and ethically wrong but also illegal, take away a bit of his rights to privacy, but the victims, the families of the victims and his family now have one more (actually hundreds more) venues in which their veracity is questioned, their dignity taken away and their humiliation by association compounded.
He was being discussed on websites from Bad Bad Teacher to Telonu (neither of which I'd ever heard of before), but what was even more apauling to me were the number of people who were not at all hesitant to blame the victims. 'They were coming on to him, and he was confused.' 'I know him and those tram-I mean girls should have just kept their legs together.' Really? In 2010, we're really still defending a 37 year-old man's (a married man and father I might add) sexual relations with children? Someone said 'Maybe if they were like 12, I would understand, but these girls were old enough to know better!' Really? Were they old enough to vote? To live on their own without a judge being involved? Join the military? To have a credit card in their own name? To rent a car? To give sexual consent? There is a reason our government has established the age at which we become adults. Most people are out of high school at that point and are naturally in a stage of life when they need to be making independent decisions. Until then, they are children and deserve our protection.
Every adult has the responsibility to protect children, whether legally obligated to do so or not.