Do you ever look at the parents and wonder what chance the children have? Nobody is perfect, everyone has their own beliefs, culture, child-rearing philosophy. Or maybe they don’t. Maybe the majority of us just muddle through as best we can.
Most accept the sacred bond between child and adult; the extraordinary responsibility that comes with the duty of care we owe children; the unspoken contract we enter into by having them in the first place, or being placed in a position of trust over them.
Therefore, as my own daughters learn to cope with the huge daily challenge of being 15 and 16, my heart goes out to the recently-turned-16 year old victim of teacher Jeremy Forrest, jailed for five and a half years for abduction and having sex with a child.
Yet, there is a queue of people lining up to support the paedophile Forrest. It might not be too surprising to hear his sister or parents came forward. How bewildering and conflicting it must be for them to have such ignominious sadness inflicted upon them.
Perhaps too, one might understand the confusion of Forrest’s wife Emma, who, despite having given evidence against him, says she still loves him and is undecided about seeking a divorce.
She really must be besotted, given that his family are open about Forrest’s current intention to marry the schoolgirl when he leaves jail. You will have your own opinions about her, but only the two people involved ever truly know what goes on in a relationship.
Other than the immature, predatory and utterly selfish Forrest the other villain here is the poor girl’s biological father. “I’d like to visit him in prison and shake his hand and say ‘thanks for looking after my daughter’”, he told The Sun. “It would be a dream for her to marry the man she loves. People get suspended sentences for worse crimes”.
How can a father speak such words? How can he not know that at 14 and 15 when this relationship evolved, teenage girls’ emotions swing wildly on subjects as diverse as Team Edward vs Team Jacob (remember them?) to who their Best Friend Forever is that day. It’s when they should be focused on passing hellish GCSEs, dealing with their changing body shapes and emotions and crushing on this week’s boy bands, movie stars and maybe even teachers. They need responsible adults in positions of trust to care for them and act, well, responsibly.
That’s why my heart goes out to Jeremy Forrest’s victim, convinced today that they will marry in five years’ time. As for her father: “They f*** you up your mum and dad”? Larkin only knew the half of it.