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Why Jeremy Forrest is Foolish and Megan Stammers is too Young

An excellent opinion piece condemning maths teacher Jeremy Forrest and perceptively discusses the sometimes misleading maturity of a 15-year old.

This is utterly inexcusable — no matter what denials or explanations Mr Forrest offered his superiors, and no matter what story Megan may have told. For as every teacher and parent of a 15-year-old girl knows, they are simultaneously the most complicated, delightful, infuriating, charming, cunning and confusing creatures you are ever likely to encounter.

For a start, they usually look much older than 15: they’re often not only taller than us but, superficially, at least, seem more confident, too. They know exactly how to cut us down to size with a withering comment about how old-fashioned we are, and seize every opportunity to patronise us.

But the parent of a teenager learns not to be fooled. Hard experience teaches us that the minute we marvel at how adult they’ve become, they’ll throw a tantrum more extreme than anything they managed in the toddler years.

‘What’s the matter?’ we wheedle, pathetically, as they stomp off to their room, radiating fury and contempt.

We already know the answer. Everything’s the matter, especially us. Teenage girls want more of everything: more money, more sleep, more freedom, more clothes (this last is the easiest to solve — they simply take ours).

Let’s make no mistake: it is Forrest, not Megan or her mother, who is entirely to blame. The fact that his marriage appears to have been acrimonious is irrelevant. He is twice Megan’s age and it is his professional and moral duty to look after her.That means putting her best interests first — not using her emotional neediness to help him cope with his own inadequacies.

Her mother says Megan’s still afraid of the dark. Her friends report that she ‘can be quite vulnerable . . . she needs to be reassured quite a bit.’

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13 Responses to “Why Jeremy Forrest is Foolish and Megan Stammers is too Young”

  1. Pauk Says:

    Its hard work being a man especially a relatively young man. We are supposed to be strong and well balanced, mature and not have personal problems or have suffered from turmoil in our younger lives that have carried forward in to adulthood. If we cross any lines it is frowned upon much more than if it was a woman.

    Of coarse there are few issues here. Megan’s age and the fact the guy is her teacher and the so far unmentioned question of if they had sex.

    In France the legal age of consent is 15, Germany 14 and in Spain it is 13 !! These are modern European countries so the moral age of consent is obviously grey, So that covers the first two issues, the remaining one is the fact that he is her teacher and possibly abused his position. He should not have become involved with her.

    If Megan was my daughter I would be fuming and want the teacher punished but at the same time I realise we live in an in perfect word full of imperfect people. Issues are not always black and white.

    The teacher who may be misguided, confused, immature, stupid, depressed, ill was prepared to run away with Megan so she must have meant something to him, It’s not a simple case of child abuse.

    He will have to be punished but at the same time we can cut him some slack.

  2. Ian G Says:

    Hi Pauk, personally I agree with the sentiment of your post – what they did together was an extremely selfish – albeit understandable – act, the forgotten victim is Forrest’s wife. We can all harp on if we wish about love stories and argue about the age of consent in different European countries, but surely one consideration is about responsibility to our loved ones, friends and family? In this regard I think Mr Forrest really over-stepped the mark – not Megan Stammers who at the age of 15 could be expected to be inconsiderate and to overstep the mark like every other 15 year old girl(!) – his actions were infantile in many respects or the marks of a breakdown. We are all human, we all make mistakes – however, accepting punishment for actions deemed unacceptable and clearly contrary to the Law are part of life. Irrespective of the nature of their relationship – and I would expect Megan Stammers to stay tight-lipped with regards whether any sexual contact took place – his actions in particular, albeit not exclusively, let himself down, his wife, his friends and family.

  3. Pauk Says:

    Ian G

    I take on board your comments about people being selfish however you only get one life and I know a number of people using up their one life for the sake of others.

    Men and women married or not run off with other people all the time so there is nothing new there, it’s is just a shame it is so public in Megan’s case.

    My point about the age of consent was that had Megan been just a few months older then there would have been almost no issue at all especially if Forrest had not been her teacher.

    But my biggest point was not about Megan, Forrest’s wife or the age of consent.

    It was about men and how so much is expected of them. Sometimes they are just not up to the job. Sometimes they carry scars from their childhood that have never been repaired but all of that is too big a subject to go into here, I just wanted to make people consider the teachers position as i think there is plenty of sympathy for Megan, her parents and even Forrest’s wife.

    • honeypotfpn Says:

      We may differ on this slightly.

      The sexual dimension concerns me a little now in that Megan is only 15 years and 4 months but I assume she was not an unwilling partner in events, maybe even schemed with Forrest to run away. Whereas relationships often go through troubles / partners stray / relationships overlap etc., outside of this and with the benefit of hindsight one can see just how overly selfish, silly and irresponsible these two have been, now gladly safe I would add. The effects of Forrests actions in particular – publically magnified and affecting a woman he made various legal and moral commitments to only relatively recently – must have been foreseen. Did he consider that Megan’s parents would just give up hope or the police would stop looking for her? Your ordering of sympathy for all the actors is significant I feel. I felt for her parents but was confident Megan was ok and would be found, am indifferent to Megan’s plight but it is Forrests wife who is the real victim in my opinion, he has behaved appallingly and with no thought of his responsibilites towards another human being, let alone his wife! I understand the mechanics and ups and downs of relationships which are often complex, all the headlines will focus on these two in the future and the parents to some extent, I doubt the focus will be his wife who I assume will shortly be his ex?
      The pressures of being a man/adult were not exactly significant for Forrest – they were DINKYS (dual income no kids) and although your perspective is interesting in the great order of things I think concerns for him or what led him – as a 30 year old in a position of trust and responsibility – to run away in what was a pathetic attempt to disappear from the radar ultimately, don’t come high on my list. Just glad they are both safe but other than that now just think Forrest had really messed up his own life and career, and arguably those of others, hopefully only in the short term.

  4. dizzymcdizzy Says:

    Im aghast reading these comments. Most lives have some trauma in them. As adults we conform to the adult world and laws of the land. As adults, men and women we have a choice to behave approriately or give in to our child within. I assume Forrest is intelligent, after all he went through uni and teacher training, where I imagine(hope) he would have had instruction on the dangers of feeling attracted to young girls who superficially appear adult beyond their years. It is no excuse to say he was troubled or had issues which led to a slip of sensibility. He was in a position of power and trust. He as an adult should have stepped away. Left school even. Megan is a child. (actually 14yrs old if you believe press reports it began in February on a school trip) In law it is classed as sexual activity with a child.(if anykind of sexual activity took place). I feel sorry for Forrest that he has ruined a career that I expect he worked hard for. I feel sorry for all the press attention he will no doubt get. But it ends there. He is totally responsible for this circumstance. The buck stops with him. We have a duty to protect children and to do that we need to stop sitting on the fence and making excuses. We need to stop looking at children and blaming them for the mistakes of adults (Rochdale “prostitutes”, Megan ” running away with” Forrest, teenage girls “should have reported” Saville etc etc). Adults hold the power not children. Its our responsibility to do the right thing.

    • honeypotfpn Says:

      Hey Dizzy, agree with much of what you have written, I’m with you in spirit.

      Please consider these short points:

      1) education and intellect are divorced in many respects from maturity and emotional stability.
      2) Can a child be a child at 13 but flick a switch and at 14 is deemed mature enough to have sex (some Euro countries)….. Or child at 14 in France, 15 adult and so on?
      3) Although suspected, was the relationship sexual in nature? I doubt Megan will ever attest to more than holding hands.

      Much of what you say makes perfect sense to me, but some childhood experiences and traumas do permeate adulthood – many child abusers have a history of being abused themselves for example to my knowledge. That is a separate point entirely because presently, now that they are safe, I feel their actions (primarily his) were selfish, silly, irresponsible and desperate. Megan can be forgiven in a sense for letting herself and others down, Forrest however had responsibilities to his wife, his parents, his employers and the children he taught and what he has done is worthy of punishment for running away – most people get wrapped up in their concerns whether the relationship was sexual and whether he is a child abuser and so on, I really don’t want to go there except to say that if some sort of act did take place other than holding hands, it should be categorised differently IMHO from abuse of a minor, as in baby or pre-pubescent young child.

      • dizzymcdizzy Says:

        Hi Honeypot equally can see your points have merit. 1) agree here totally. However if someone is that emotionally unstable and/or immature do we really want them influencing our children in a paid role? (we could go down the road of all the parents who fit this category but I wont!).
        2) again, agree – personally I dont agree with the laws of those lands that say 14 is the age of consent (how can you consent to something at that age? how informed are you at that age? really?) In fact in some countries is common practice to be married in early childhood and there are many known cases of sexual activity in marriage between young girls and old adult men…. where do we draw the line?
        3) in some regards the sexual nature or not question is not the point – although obviously there are health issues/pregnancy concerns. Overriding for me is the question – how much coercive control was at play in this relationship? or was Mr Forrest so very immature that this relationship was perfectly balanced? If the latter, how on earth did he manage to get to the rank of teacher?

        In terms of should he be classed as a pedophile? on the basis of this instance alone, given the age of Megan (not really pre-pubescent) I’d say no (there will be other terms that fit better). HOWEVER I would want to really look at his previous conduct, previous relationship history. Is there a pattern of being attracted to young girls and from what age? So many questions, many we wont get answers and why should we except to keep our children safe. In the future we do need to explore these things and learn more.

  5. honeypotfpn Says:

    I assume, based on the limited information We all have access to – there was no coercion involved at all to be honest. I don’t equate maturity levels with control either, some people are equally mature but one or the other can be controlling in nature or particularly dominant, some relationships can only function with the actors playing those roles. I can’t remember the last time a teacher ran away with a pupil, and to be honest it would be a knee-jerk reaction to have a maturity test – perhaps multiple choice?! – which would be useless anyway and demeaning to most people. Since the dawn of humanity people have been lovestruck etc and the accuracy of phrases like ‘love knows no bounds’ is often alarming! Unfortunately we can legislate all we want or try to pre-empt any state of affairs but humans in general have a tendency to sometimes do the most irrational and illogical things because (most of us) have free will. I am just satisfied that both are safe and didn’t end up being found down a lane with a hosepipe through a window and attached to an exhaust. Perhaps our attention should really be focussed on the shocking abduction of that little girl in Wales…

    • dizzymcdizzy Says:

      I disagree that some relationships function on one person being dominant. From my professional experience working in the field of abuse and violence against women and girls i am seeing this from a totally different angle. Still, it would not do for us all to think the same and I can agree to differ.

      • honeypotfpn Says:

        Hi Dizzy, I think you are seeing the extremes end of dominant relationships – there is no doubt in my mind that many relationships have dominant characters and some subservient, some adopt traditional roles of a housewife others don’t. Some women need a dominant male and are attracted to dominant males and likewise in some relationships women wear the trousers so-to-speak.
        We probably agree but it is just that I can’t articulate what I mean properly.

      • dizzymcdizzy Says:

        I see what you are saying. Rather than dominance, I do see that some couples have very distinct ‘traditional’ roles or quite the reverse, and they are both happy with that, and both have equal say in decision making. Where I’m coming from is that when there is such a big age gap and their life stages are so different and more specifically one person holds a position of power/dominance due to the circumstance i.e. teacher and pupil….this is where I cannot see it is totally balanced and I therefore worry for the long term health of the child. Coercive control is very very subtle. People can go years without having seen the subtle manipulation in their lives. So whilst a dominant/subservient relationship may look happy, from my work I would say ‘scratch the surface’. Those relationships where specific roles are taken on, i.e. wife/cook/mother. husband/breadwinner but where there is a balance in decision making and responsibility are to me, much healthier. So yes, i think we probably agree in areas but are looking at it from different angles and experience basis!

      • honeypotfpn Says:

        In my experience shared/equal decision-making and a balance in relationships are very rare. Some people are perfectly happy being reliant on their partner making the decisions or are content playing either dominant or subservient role. In almost all relationships between friends families and others there are different characters, followers and leaders, outspoken characters and more reserved ones. Playing a dominant role does not necessarily mean domineering in my view. Admittedly as an employer/teacher or any role where one may be older and in a position of status (professional/financial etc) which particularly younger people may be overly impressed by, there is always going to be a danger of abuse of that role, or the interpretation of abuse. Young girls of Megans age are always going to be a danger since if not sexually aware they are usually becoming sexually aware or have had varying degrees of sexual experience, the majority are genetically programmed to make themselves look as attractive and as old/mature as possible too. Young teachers will often be more attractive than the middle-aged, married with kids variety too!

  6. Happyhippo Says:

    I read these comments in despair. I don’t condone what Forrest did, he violated his position of trust with Megan and his actions were stupid. But I cannot disagree more that Megan has no responsibility in this either. She choose to go with him! It was a mutual decision, he didnt force her. Im sure she wanted this just as much if not more than he did. If she was 16 there would have been far less hype, and at 18 there would have been almost none. So we are saying that in those 2 years a girl instantly becomes a mature women/adult. Maturity doesn’t work that way, some teenagers have far more sense and maturity than some adults not everyone is the same and you cannot make stereotypical judgements purely based upon someone’s age. Its wrong. They should have waited until he was no longer her teacher. I feel honestly sorry for them, in love and now jail bate – tragic.

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