Monday, 5 January 2009

Infatuated teacher jailed, branded as sex offender

There was a story in our local paper this week about a teacher who had an affair with a sixth former. He was in his twenties, she was over sixteen, so their relationship would have been perfectly legal - if he hadn't been her teacher. When the matter came to light, not only was he sacked, but following a court case he has been banned for life from working with children, told he must register as a sex offender for 10 years - and given a 10 month prison sentence.

There's no denying that this young teacher was foolish and unprofessional, and that his actions were unethical and exploitative, but should he be branded a criminal - and a sex offender, to boot? Does it really make sense to put him in the same category as rapists and child-molesters? And is it fair to conclude from a single, misjudged infatuation with someone who was, after all, legally an adult, that he is unfit to work with children of any age?

I've often felt that the legislation under which this teacher was convicted was motivated as much by a prudish fear of young people having sex, as it was by a desire to protect children from predatory professionals. Yet another example of nannying New Labour perhaps? Or perhaps I'm overreacting...?

Interestingly, Jeremy Stangroom has a couple of posts up that discuss issues germane to this case.

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