Lauren Cox, a married 27-year-old geography teacher, having sex with her 16-year-old pupil is child abuse. However, the popular opinion, especially amongst men, appears to be that her crime is less heinous than if a male teacher were involved with a girl of 16. This view is rooted in the idea that a boy-child sleeping with an older woman is a badge of honour. Apparently patriarchy has blinded some to the seriousness of the offence. Mrs Cox’s sexual assault cannot be framed as consensual. I find it every bit as abusive and predatory as if the genders were reversed.
The age of consent is 16 years old. However, a teacher stands in loco parentis (in the place of a parent). It is a bond of trust between the parents, educators and pupils. Lauren Cox breached that trust when she took advantage of her position of power. She met the student when he was aged 13 and was buying him sweets. Lauren Cox groomed the boy and went on to have a sexual relationship with him. She put her sexual desires above the welfare of her pupil.
Misplaced misogyny implies that a young man having sex with an older woman and a teacher is a conquest. The notion completely ignores the pupil’s victimhood. Mrs Cox instructed him to keep the relationship a secret. The young man told the court this had distanced him from his family and friends. Her demands to meet him interfered with his education and his revision for exams. He traded his ambition to become a doctor to become a teacher. Following in Mrs Cox footsteps, he was to read Geography at the university she had attended. In his victim impact statement, he said he felt trapped.
There is something wrong when an adult wants a relationship with a child. The age difference alone provides a tremendous power imbalance. It is worse when that adult is a teacher. Mrs Cox’s behaviour was predatory; she took advantage of her position of authority. It is misogynist nonsense and harmful to attribute her behaviour to a conquest by a boy-child. I believe the judge has been unduly lenient with just one year in jail. A man would have received a higher sentence. She has harmed this young man. He is her victim. Child abuse must never be gender blind.
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