Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Community Order

On the front page of the Thanet Times today, news that a former Hartsdown College teacher, has been given a 36-month community order with supervision for "kissing and cuddling a 13-year-old pupil girl who he had turned to for company when he was feeling low.

34-year-old Samuel Webb ended the relationship with the girl after exchanging more than 2,000 text messages, but it came to light when her father received a £250 bill for her mobile phone.

Webb, formerly of Approach Road, Broadstairs, but now living in Oxford, admitted one charge of sexual activity with a child.

The rest of the story can be found here but is the sentence sufficient or indeed appropriate given that nature of the position of trust that Webb enjoyed?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This guy is a lucky man. Quite rightly he should never teach again. What is not clear from the report is what degree of sexual activity took place. As a father of adolescent daughters my immediate reaction is 'jail the creep'; she was a minor and in his care; no excuses here as it is an offence for any -one and has been exacerbated because he is in a position of trust. Very much a criminal matter and he was fortun ate not to be jailed. What I am not so happy about is the situation where those who are in a position of 'trust' have now been criminalised for what is legal for others. It is a criminal offence for a young teacher to have a relationship with a 6th former aged 18. It should be a professional offence and the GTC should remove a teacher in that position from the teaching profession, but to make him/her a criminal for activity that the rest of us can do legally is frankly nonsense.

chris wells said...

No it is not nonsense. We have to have serious sanctions that set apart the moral code and expected behaviour of those in positions of trust with young people. If that means they choose a profession that limits their moral freedom with children until longer than the law allows for those without teh additional responsibility so be it. We cannot erode the moral codes of our society any more. We must shore them up and strengthen them rather than weaken them any more.

Pedagogue said...

The particular bit of legislation 9.09 seems to be referring to was introduced at the same time as a lowering of the age of consent for homosexuals in line with heterosexuals; in other words it was removing discrimination. However the same piece of legislation then went on to criminalise behaviour accepted as permissable for any other person.The sanctions against teachers falling in love with adults in their care(6th Formers) are breaking their professional code and the General Teaching Council can remove them from ever teaching again; a very serious sanction. The criminalisation of what should be a professional matter is the issue. It is not a weakening or erosion of the moral codes of our society to regard this punitive legislation as nonsensical. The legislation does not make the action (sexual activity with a consenting adult) the offence, but the criminal offence depends on the status of the person doing it. The medical profession quite rightly regards sexual activity by doctors with their patients as a breach of medical ethics and can strike off doctors; they are not made criminals though.

Anonymous said...

I despair.

Anonymous said...

Despair of what 12.16?

Anonymous said...

In addition to the sanctions of the Law, parents should teach their children about these reptiles. My children know as much as I know about predators etc, the way they operate and the tricks they use to leverage their position with young people. Don't be embarrased about anything to do with growing up and the risks that face our children. Sit down with them and explain everthing you have learned in your life, as knowledge is power, and an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure!

Anonymous said...

10.53 - I despair of the judicial system in this country. I despair of people behaving in this way, and of course those in professions that give them easy access to children but most of all I despair of the way society has gone down the toilet and it will never improve.

Anonymous said...

Abuse of trust is nothing new.

One only has to look at how domestic servants were treated by their employers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Often young female teenagers were - as we would call it today - raped and then dismissed when a preganancy ensued. never a court case there!

A little like drug misuse, the only difference nowadays is that such behaviour has spread beyond the privileged class.

Wrong then to suggest this current case signals a decline in society; rather that the problems have always been there and never effectively been tackled.

Right that the individual should be punished, but we do need, Councillor Wells, to keep things in perspective.

We also need to see examples set at the highest level. The World Bank President, for example, should have been sacked, not allowed to string out his challenge and then go on his own terms.