Today I watched Dr. Phil. Guests were the 41-year-old male teacher and his new live-in girlfriend, his former student, who is 18. Barf! He left a 20-year marriage and three kids to move in with an 18 year old girl. Her mother is understandably outraged.
He claims they are in love and just "following their hearts." With language like that you know he is wooing this child with romantic ideas, not real life. What he wants, it seems, is fresh meat. After he's done using her up, he'll dump her, too. He's selfish, cruel, and dishonest. If he truly loves her, he would be willing to give her time to grow up and make a decision based on experience and self/world awareness. He has to know that at 18 her brain isn't even fully developed, and she does not have the capacity to understand long term consequences. She is being fooled and is playing house. He is satisfying his lust for youth and using her, big time.
Her mother sees this clearly, but because she's the mother, the daughter can't get past the mother-daughter thing to see that her mother is right. So there is big time tension. Who is taking care of this girl's need for protection? This idiot teacher should know better and should be put in jail.
Another thing happened: today I heard a statistic that a shelter here in St. Paul, MN, which helps women escaping from domestic violence, took in almost 1,000 women and children in 2011. 1,000 women and children in need of protection from domestic violence in little St. Paul!? That is an outrage. Probably more were turned away, because we all know these days, there are not enough shelters and safe houses for the enormous need. What a sad, sad state our society is in.
I don't have the answers. Right now I only have outrage. Somehow we need to educate our children... girls, so they learn to see the danger signs in relationships and learn to protect themselves, and to love themselves enough to avoid those pitfalls; boys so they no longer feel this need to control and "own" the girls and women in their lives, and love themselves enough to accept life's ups and downs without fear of losing their manhood. Picture this: boys and girls, men and women, all strong and secure in themselves to avoid falling into dangerous relationships. They all value the friendships and talents that everyone provides. Friendships and love relationships are built on trust, respect, and equality. We could close the shelters and trust that our neighbors and we ourselves would all be helping protect our children.
Dream world? Maybe... but it's what a lot of other dreamers have seen as possibilities: Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, Sojourner Truth, Jane Addams, Paul and Sheila Wellstone... I don't think it's too much to ask. Let's think about our own lives and how we can each make a difference with our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and those we meet along our daily journeys. Speak up, take a stand, defend children, challenge stereotypes. Maybe we can start to turn this around and create a better world.