Friday, June 22, 2007

So This Is Pretty F'd Up

Just your average picture of a coach and his star track team member. Only it doubles as their wedding photo.

I'm amazed that this hasn't received more nationwide attention yet, but it probably won't be long. ABC has a story on its website about a 40 year-old former North Carolina high school track coach marrying a 16 year-old student-athlete. Apparently the two met when she was 14 (he was 38) and really hit it off. He was her freshman track coach at the time. He started giving her rides places, text messaging with her at 2am and just generally acting like a creep. She fell hard for him and they decided to get married at the age of consent in North Carolina, which I guess is 16 years of age. The kicker is that in order for her to get married at such a young age, her parents had to sign a consent form, which they reluctantly did. They were married on Monday and the coach resigned from the school.

What strikes me most about this is that it's my understanding, at least in NY, that ANY relationship that even SMELLS of shady contact between a student and position of authority in a school is simply not tolerated. If a teacher or coach lived next door to a student and gave him/her a ride home more than once the school would call that person in and let them know that it's innapropriate. Because of the trust relationship between the teacher/coach and student/parent, the teacher/coach has the burden of going out of their way to make sure even the most benign private contact with a student isn't misconstrued. It's just too dicey. So I can't even fathom that the school here didn't stop this in its tracks when the parents contacted them about it when she was 14. At that moment, he should have been told that he cannot have any contact with her in or outside of the school or else the authorities will be called and he'll be fired. More than anyone (except maybe the creepy coach guy) in this situation, I blame them. The reason for such a harsh response is because teenage kids fall for teachers all the time and don't have a clue how to deal with those feelings. If you allow your teachers to take advantage of the kids, the relationship of trust is completely lost and some of those kids will be F'd up for life. If you allow any even mildy creepy activity to occur, your 40 year-old track coach could end up ruining the life of a 16 year-old kid.

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