Has anyone ever heard of the term ‘jail bait’? Because when a 41-year-old man enters into a relationship with a 12-year-old (even writing this makes me ill), then that’s exactly what it is.
Today’s story in the Times makes my blood boil, but the online comments which I am reading are making me wonder whether we have all gone mad. Apparently, some are reasoning that since the relationship was “consensual” (which is a contradiction in terms because consent requires both sides to be adults) and because these days some 12-year-olds look and act as if they were 18, then it suddenly makes this all OK.
No, it is never OK. She’s a child, he’s an adult.
I don’t care if she threw herself at him wearing little more than a smile and used every seduction tactic in the book, he should have had the decency to avoid her, and if possible, warn her parents about her risky behaviour. Any young girl who is acting provactively beyond her years needs help and counselling, and proper guidance.
What she does not need is a man who thinks it’s perfectly legitimate to carry on a sexual relationship with her. Does this really need to be spelled out?
Some people are pointing to the openly provocative photos of pre-pubescent girls on Facebook to bolster their arguments. “Girls at 12 these days are no longer that naive” some are saying. I find this type of reasoning even more alarming and appalling than the actual story. What are we saying here: that the increase in sexually aware under age girls is something we need to take in our stride? Should we just shrug and turn a blind eye because there’s nothing we can do?
There’s a lot we can do. At that age what these (often) misguided girls need is to be monitored closely by attentive parents or guardians who have to drum it into their heads that their hormones might be raging wildly but that they are simply not psychologically or emotionally ready for sex. Yes, girls at that age have suddenly realised that their sexuality is a heady form of power and they are thrilled at any male attention. And it does not help that half-naked pop idols who bombard us with their grind and bump music videos are helping to encourage the early sexualisation of girls even as young as six.
But that is why the role of adults is to keep a watchful eye out and ensure that young girls do not put themselves into vulnerable situations through their Facebook friends, the photos they post, the clothes they wear and the company they keep. Adults should not be taking a laissez-faire attitude towards this issue.
And adults should certainly not be so resigned to the inevitable that they are admitting defeat with the type of “what can you do?” comments I have seen online. It’s high time that parents took control of their children again.