So a teacher has been banned from teaching for life for kissing an 18 year old student at a leavers' party. Good grief!
Yes, ok, Ruth Vaughn also had sex with the lad during his second week at uni, but so what?
I know this is a topic that polarises people one way or the other and in the midst of our paedophile obsessed culture this has stirred strong feelings. As a ex teacher/lecturer myself, I know all the rules and regs and let me firmly stress that I have NEVER engaged in sexual activity with any of my students and that I in no way condone or make excuses for paedophiles.
However, I do think it's time we started using some common sense in these matters. Yes, there are arguments about Ms. Vaughn being in a position of trust, but at the end of the day, the lad was 18, therefore, as far as I'm concerned that rule no longer applies. Furthermore, as the age of consent is 16, I think that is the age at which the rules about being in a position of trust should no longer apply. You can't have one rule for most of society and another rule for other sections. Although, I am tempted to put in the caveat that at 16 there should be no more than a 10 year age gap between the two CONSENTING parties.
Again, let me make it ABSOLUTELY clear that I would not support nor condone sexual activity with anyone (any child actually) under the age of 16. That is sick, evil and just totally vile. I hope I've made that clear. However, I do feel that from the age of 16 they are mature enough and able to make decisions about having sex for the first time. Hence why this is the age of consent
Having worked in a number of schools/colleges I can honestly say that very few 16 year olds are as innocent as we would like them to be. They know what the score is and they should not be treated as children. Trust me, 16 year old girls are nowhere near the gullible, sweet little lambs they are portrayed to be. I can't think of one that I've worked with who didn't know exactly what she was doing. Regularly, I saw them flirting very overtly with male teachers and I've heard many talking explicitly about what they would do to certain male teachers.....and believe me, they meant it.
However, in this specific case we are not talking about a 16 year old, but an 18 year old ADULT and a 24 year old woman. Regardless of the fact that he was still at school (albeit for another few days) he was legally an adult and at that point all they had done was share a kiss - so what? Big deal. Unfortunately, now because of our over protective nanny state society, Ms. Vaughn has been banned from teaching in Britain for life (although she can appeal this in 5 years time). I honestly think this is too harsh and it just demonstrates how silly and over reaching our rules and laws have become.
20/30 years ago it was quite common place for teachers to date and marry their sixth form students. Indeed I heard of someone who did just that in his mid 20s and she was 18 - granted this was a long time ago, the guy is now in his 70s. Furthermore, when the head teacher found out that the pair were together, he invited this person for a 'chat' and tried to give the then young teacher advice on getting a mortgage together and setting up a home. In my opinion that is how it should still be. We should be using common sense in these matters. If both parties are over the age of consent (and it is mutually consenting) and certainly if they are both 18 and older, then it can't and shouldn't in anyway be thought of as abuse.
Absolutely, we must do all we can to stop CHILDREN being abused - God forbid nobody wants that. ( Again, let me state that I view anybody under 16 as a child). However, to sack someone and ban them from teaching for simply sharing a kiss with an 18 year old is simply stupid (the issue of being in a position of trust is simply immaterial.)
We all need to loosen up, use some common sense and live and let live.