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A dopey judge, a lesbian teacher and an insidious bid to lower the age of consent

from – You really do have to wonder whether the adult world any longer understands what its responsibility towards children actually entails.

Earlier this week Helen Goddard,[pictured] a 26-year-old music teacher, was convicted and jailed for 15 months for having a lesbian affair with her 15-year-old pupil.

Judge Anthony Pitts said such a sentence was inevitable because her offence was so serious. Yet in the very next breath he refused a prosecution request to ban Goddard from contacting her victim because to do so would be ‘draconian and unnecessarily cruel’ to the girl.

What an extraordinary misjudgment. Just what part of ‘serious’ does Judge Pitts not understand?

If Goddard’s relationship with the girl was so exploitative, manipulative, devious and harmful – as Judge Pitts said it was – how can it possibly be in that teenager’s interests for it to continue in any form whatever?

Not only that, the judge refused another prosecution request to ban Goddard from ever being alone with underage girls.

So what on earth was going through his mind? Did he perhaps think – just like Queen Victoria, who thought lesbianism was nothing to get worked up about because she couldn’t imagine what it involved – that a lesbian affair wasn’t really that serious?

In fact, any premature sexual encounter is damaging, and a premature lesbian affair is likely to cause even more harmful confusion in an immature mind.
The judge said he had taken account of what had been said by Goddard’s barrister, who said the girl ‘obviously’ still loved Goddard very much.

But one of the awful things about the sexual abuse of children is that the victims very often form utterly inappropriate affection for and loyalty to their abuser.

And that’s because one of the most damaging effects of this kind of psychological manipulation is the terrible harm it does to a developing child’s emotional and moral centre of gravity.

In this case, indeed, the girl’s parents testified that Goddard had led their daughter to believe that the affair was within the bounds of a normal relationship and could be continued without difficulty once she reached 16.

By such means, they said, Goddard had deprived their daughter of the ‘opportunity for the normal development of sexual relations’.

Yet despite this awful psychological injury she had caused to a child in her care – and the danger of exacerbating it if the teenager continued to be exposed to her – the judge has permitted Goddard to continue to see her.

This child needed instead protection from her abuser. So how can the judge have so perversely decided that to do so would be ‘cruel’?

Was it perhaps because much of the impetus for the affair was said to have came from the teenager? According to Goddard’s barrister, the teacher was ‘subjected to a lot of pressure from the child’.

But this is an appalling argument. As the barrister himself said, the girl was a ‘child’. As such, even if she had initiated the affair she could not be held responsible.

Sure, children even younger than 15 now behave in a highly sexualised fashion. But they are still children.

The fact that they are acting out a parody of adult behaviour does not turn them into adults. On the contrary, they depend upon the adult world to repel such advances and guide them into more appropriate behaviour and attitudes.

A crucial aspect of a teacher’s role, after all, is to be in loco parentis – theirs is a position of authority and trust. To abuse that trust by exploiting a child’s immaturity and vulnerability is just about the most serious offence a teacher can commit.

That is also the point of having a legal minimum age for consent to sexual activity. It demarcates the point below which a young person is deemed to be too immature to take responsibility for such relationships and to need the protection and guidance of the adult world.

But it appears that this adult world is increasingly reluctant to accept either this distinction or this responsibility. On the BBC Radio Four programme Iconoclasts this evening, Cambridge law professor John Spencer proposes reducing the age of consent to 13.

His argument is reportedly that the current law is both heavy-handed and unenforceable. What he seems to be saying is that because so many underage children are having sex, the law should be altered to suit.

More…Judge gives green light for public school teacher jailed for lesbian sex with pupil, 15, to still meet victim when she gets out
Public schoolgirl: I’m in love with lesbian teacher facing jail over our affair
A devout Christian with a glittering career ahead, so why did Helen Goddard throw it away with a lesbian affair with a pupil?

But one of the reasons why so many underage children are having sex is precisely because the law is not being enforced.

The reasons for this are as various as they are irresponsible. Sex is now viewed as no more than a recreational sport with risks, rather like skiing or horse riding.

The collapse of both adult authority and morality has meant schools now invite even very young children to make grotesquely inappropriate selections from a menu card of both heterosexual and samesex practices.

As a result, whereas the protection of the young from sexual predators was once regarded as a progressive act, now it is viewed as a heavy-handed attack on children’s ‘rights’.

The result of these and other similarly damaging ideas has been the stratospheric rise in the rates of teenage pregnancy, abortions and sexually transmitted disease among teenagers and children. To abolish what legal protection there is would merely remove all remaining constraints and worsen an already disastrous situation.

Sexual behaviour is shaped by a variety of cultural signals, ranging from informal pressure – such as social stigma over promiscuity or unmarried motherhood – to legal sanctions through enforcement of the law on the age of consent.

All these signals have been progressively switched from red to green. Coupled with the breakdown in parental authority, this has put rocket fuel behind teenage sexual activity.

But there has been yet another baleful development to add to this toxic mix.

With so much emphasis now on the pupil being the driver of the education process and with the teacher merely ‘facilitating’ the child’s own voyage of discovery, teachers have long proclaimed that it is not their job to guide their pupils on moral issues, merely to offer them ‘informed choices’.

Who can wonder, therefore, that among young teachers in particular this has led to serious confusion about the necessary distinction between themselves and their pupils, leading in some cases to a total breakdown of any understanding of the need for them to exercise adult authority – or indeed, what that is.

So who can be surprised that there now appear to be so many cases of teachers having sexual relationships with their pupils? This phenomenon was even the subject of a recent highly acclaimed novel and film, which invested this sordid and repellent behaviour with an extra patina of glamour.

The protection of children from sexual exploitation depends on the adult world holding the line for adult authority and responsibility towards those children.

From judges to academics, who regard this as ‘ heavyhanded’, ‘cruel’ or ‘draconian’, it appears that this line is now crumbling in the profound moral confusion of our age.


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