Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Annie Kitchin: ‘Schoolgirl stalkers’ story reprehensible

Published:Tuesday | January 5, 2016 | 1:00 AMAnnie Kitchin, Contributor

I was appalled and outraged at your scandal-mongering front-page story on Sunday, January 3, 2016, titled 'Schoolgirl stalkers: Male teachers flee the classroom to escape female student predators'.

The whole point of the ludicrous article was obviously to further sully and downgrade teenage girls, who are already the most preyed-upon and abused group in this misogynistic country.

Girls in this society are constantly exposed to unwanted sexual attention and, indeed, assault, whether from members of their own nuclear family (who should be protecting, not abusing them), family friends and neighbours, church brothers and teachers, as well as from the casual man on the street.

If anyone needs convincing of this obvious fact, the following experiment could be tried: Wherever you see a group of women together, ask them whether, when they were teenagers or younger, anyone was subjected to touching, lewd suggestions, or, worse, from people whom they should have expected to be able to trust. Having carried out this experiment myself, frequently, over a number of years, I can assure you it is impossible to find even a small group of women where fewer than two people answer 'yes'.

 

ABUSIVE FATHERS

There are no front-page articles lambasting fathers who rape their young children, some of them babies and infants; rather, any article written demonises the mothers who allowed the outrage to occur, rather than the perverted, abusive father. It is often the case that where fathers are so abusive to infants, they are even more violent and abusive to the mothers, who go in fear of their lives, especially since they can usually count on absolutely no support from the wider society in helping them escape and protecting them from their abusive partner.

This particular front-page item speaks of 'several' girls who have sent improper photographs to male teachers. How many is that, exactly? Three? Seven? Does the scale of the phenomenon warrant this degree of publicity and public outrage, compared with the daily, constant abuse meted out to young girls and women, which is taken so much for granted in this country that it barely merits a mention?

Anyone with even the slightest understanding of the psychology and development of children can understand the crushes that schoolgirls can develop for male teachers, who are such a rarity in girls' schools, especially when these girls have not had a chance to develop healthy, loving relationships with their own fathers and other male relatives.

 

THWAITES' REACTION

Add to this the sexualisation of almost every aspect of life, on TV, in music, in magazines and popular culture, it is no wonder that some girls are confused and bewildered and act entirely inappropriately in a desire to attract some (male) attention to themselves, at a time when they are beginning the process of becoming young women. This is a situation to be dealt with carefully and tactfully, with understanding and love, not with scandal-mongering and hypocritical expressions of outrage, magnifying the phenomenon out of all proportion.

As for the reaction of our minister of education, his surprise has come as no surprise to me, giving further proof, if ever it was needed, that he does not have even the slightest inkling about the care and development of the young. His whole approach to education from the very beginning has been to emphasise indoctrination and regimentation with a strong dose of intimidation.

But you, Mr Editor, are largely to blame in this matter: To print this 'news item', especially on the front page, was perfectly reprehensible. Moreover, you point the finger of blame at those who are the most vulnerable, the most likely to be victims themselves. In so doing, you have distorted reality and misled the public - shame on you!

- Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and anniekitchin@gmail.com.