Another female teacher has gone bonkers over a boy. A twenty-five-year-old math teacher in Lexington, Nebraska, ran away to Mexico with a thirteen-year-old eighth-grade student. In their photographs, she looks about twelve, he looks about eighteen. They ran away after police investigating their relationship gave out the story they were having sex, and they were taken into custody in a parking lot in Mexico. The woman was turned over to the FBI, the boy was sent to relatives in Mexico and won’t be allowed to return to the US.
In my town, there’s a church-sponsored teen youth center that I frequently drive by. There are always kids coming and going, and it looked like a wholesome place. Recently, a young woman went to the police to tell them she had been having sex with the director since she was fifteen or sixteen. She’s eighteen or nineteen now. When questioned, the man admitted his guilt and resigned. The center is now closed.
Both those stories bother me on a lot of levels. Both the female teacher and the male youth director were people in positions of authority, people whose job was to teach and lead young people toward maturity. They failed miserably. Neither had the maturity they were supposed to be instilling in their charges. Neither had the character to resist following biological urges. Neither had the sense to know they would eventually be caught and held up to scorn and ridicule, not to mention loss of careers. Anyway you look at it, what they did was a betrayal of trust — of their employers, of parents, and of the kids they were supposed to be leading.
But when I think of the teens involved, I think the greatest damage done to them was from the reaction of authorities. Having police handcuff you and deport you for having sex with your teacher has to be more traumatic than being thirteen and having a teacher fall in love with you. Sending police to arrest a man you’ve been sleeping with for three years and then reading about yourself in the newspaper has to cause you more emotional turmoil than the sex did.
Rape is an act of violence that doesn’t have much to do with sex. Sex with a sexually mature teenager who is in love with you is not rape. It’s stupid, but it’s not rape, and treating it as rape is silly. When priests rape altar boys, I’m all for hanging them up by their genitals and letting them twist slowly in the breeze. When adults use small children as sexual playthings, I’ll help put them in boats and send them out to open seas without sails or motors or oars. But I think we need to rethink our laws that make criminals of people who’ve had consensual sex with sexually mature teens.