Tuesday, 25 September 2012


A fifteen year old girl hops it or elopes (for want of a better word) with her thirty year old teacher and hysteria grips the nation. Either it's naughty girl or naughty teacher, the media can milk the national horror, it's phobias, it's delusion it's crass stupidity either way, send reporters chasing all over Europe, a blanket coverage of rumpled blankets.
I've had two girlfriends whose stories include running off at fifteen, so at least in terms of my history it seems hardly unusual, perhaps almost mandatory if you attended Camden School for Girls. My wife's sister ran off with the ice cream man while the family holidayed at Butlins, and I'm sure Thomas Hardy is full of it. The difference is, we are not in the days when you just went around and had a quiet chat to sort it out, it has become a media circus, a rather sick circus, and exemplary of the media escalating something for it's own benefit.
Seeing her story on television in a French motel room, what is that fifteen year old going to think? Is she going to think better of her parents or not? Isn't she likely to be texting 'OMG!!!!' to anybody who will listen? Isn't it going to drive a deeper rift than ever? Is she less, or more, likely to contact her parents? After all she believes she is an adult, and this story is mercilessly telling her she's a child.
I am not condoning fifteen year olds running off with anybody, nor teachers falling in love with them, congress is after all illegal. However it happens, and this proves the media is the worst of blunt instruments to deal with it.

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