Rarely a day goes by that I don’t wonder why we bother making up stories.

Perhaps it’s because all the good ones are taken, by real life.

As anyone who lives in the UK, and possibly the world, knows by now, Megan Stammers is a 15-year-old schoolgirl who is currently at large in Europe with her 30-year-old married maths teacher.  CCTV footage from the cross-channel ferry shows them with their arms around each other. She sent a text to a friend saying she’d arrived in France. And that’s all anyone’s heard. It’s been five days.

Only now, some background information has emerged. It’s possible that the liaison has been going on for months. It looks as if the pair may have run away due to an inquiry by the school, or possibly the police. The teacher got a large tattoo over the summer of a girl who looks very like Megan.

I can’t get this story out of my head.

Partly because it fits my area of interest so well (unusual love stories are a bit of an obsession) and partly because I’m not quite willing to believe that this is the story of a craven paedophile out to ruin and desert an innocent young thing.

Even Humbert Humbert wasn’t exactly a craven paedophile out to ruin and desert an innocent young thing.

It’s the problem with “wrong love” — though sometimes wrong wrong wrong for a variety of very sensible reasons, it isn’t usually as cut and dried as the tabloids like to claim (though to be fair, even The Sun ran the huge headline HE WAS A NICE BLOKE this morning). The girl’s parents are the source of the “Nice Bloke” quote, and the teacher’s parents have said that “our son is one of the most gentle, caring people you will ever meet.” They also called him “vulnerable”.

It looks as if perhaps he really is a nice bloke — one who has fallen madly deeply in love with a 15-year-old. He’s probably a very immature bloke. Certainly a bloke without a sharp eye on what this will do to his future.

What’s so sad about the story is that it doesn’t appear as if he intended to do her any harm — perhaps he felt (misguidedly) that love might, even in this case, conquer all.

It won’t conquer all. And I have a very bad feeling about how it will end — for him, at least.

Can’t help feeling sad for him, for her, for their families.

And for the madness of love.

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13 thoughts on “Megan Stammers and her teacher.

  1. Kate Maryon 4 years ago

    So true. So sad every way round. An expression of love that got twisted – same as a million marriages. x

  2. Jake Elliott 4 years ago

    Leave them be – she’s only one year out, anyway.
    In fact, in some countries, she’s technically legally able to consent. I wonder what the age is in France – perhaps their relationship is fine there? Either way: Yes, the families might be distraught, but everybody is unique. Freedom of speech is a right, and it would be unfair for us to break this girl from her partner if she chose to be with him. If it was rape, kidnapping or some messed up trade – fine. Yet, it isn’t.
    I say good luck to them.

    1. Meg Rosoff 4 years ago

      I’m not the one who’s going to send him to jail for kidnapping and sex with a minor.

  3. Barbaroos 4 years ago

    Another story about a 15 year old and her teacher: My friend had an intimate relationship with her teacher. It started when she was 15. He was her teacher. When she broke up their relationship, after about 10 years, because he was too controlling, she got kind of lost in the world around her. Within half a year after the breakup, the teacher’s daughter came to my friend for help, because her father had turned his sexual needs to her. My friend turned her down. My friend is now 45 years of age and still wandering from one man to another. Let’s not get too romantic about Megan and Jeremy. It is not a story. It is reality. Please write your version of this reality, Meg. Please write your story. It might help me cope with the pain of my friend.

    1. Meg Rosoff 4 years ago

      Yup, that’s another side to it. There are so many sides. Why is any 30 year old attracted to a teenager? Is it the same reason 60 year old men marry women half their age? Or worse? Desire is messy and often dangerous. As is love.

  4. Elizabeth Law 4 years ago

    What a thoughtful post on a subject that has been haunting me, too. I don’t have anything to add but I wanted to thank you for blogging about this.

  5. Fiona Harris 4 years ago

    Wrong love? Yes. Sad? Yes. Illegal? Most definitely. A teacher is in a position of trust, he or she has a care of duty which when abused puts children at risk. All children, not just the Megan’s of our society.
    So he’s a vulnerable man. Well that maybe a reason for his actions but certainly not an excuse for his behaviour, he’s in the wrong, he knows it – hence his fleeing from the storm that he knew was brewing.
    We’ve all loved and acted wrongly, but mostly we try not to do the wrong thing, whether it be morally wrong or legally wrong. (oops, lots of wrongs there!). This man has done both, he should do the right thing and return this young girl, this child, back to her parents and face up to the consequences.
    I can only guess at the damage that will be caused by the actions of this teacher, I can only hope as a parent that the damage isn’t irreparable.

  6. from an anonymous student in worcester 4 years ago

    In our ICT class we had an interesting discussion on this story. I don’t think he’s in the right at all. She isn’t the one that’s double the age of that man. She’s 15, he’s 30 he should know that he’s in the wrong. I think he should come back from France and face up to what he’s done. Get a year or more in Prison I say.

  7. Christina 4 years ago

    I hadn’t heard of this story til now. And now that I have, I’m very sad. It’s not star-crossed love, or a matter of “it’s OK to consent at age 15 in some countries.” (Heck, you can marry off your 10 year old to a 70 year old man in some countries; doesn’t make it right.)

    15 and 30 year olds are at very different places emotionally and intellectually, for one thing. But moreover, this man, as noted by a previous commentator, was in a position of trust. He was her teacher. He’s got a contract there, morally and legally, to be her teacher, not her lover, regardless of age. Her parents put the girl in his care. I’d hate to think any of my 15 year old’s coaches and teachers thought it’d be OK to enter into a love affair with her and take her off to another country.

    The New Yorker had a good article last week about the Sandusky affair at a university in Pennsylvania and his grooming of boys. Pedophiles often place themselves in positions where they work with children and know how to identify the ones that are vulnerable. Not saying this guy made a practice of that–but he is part of that ilk. Not professional, not mature, not trustworthy.

    1. Meg Rosoff 4 years ago

      Just because you fall in love with a 15 year old doesn’t make you a paedophile. If you read what I said, i’m not defending his actions, but there are all sorts of love, and some of them are a bit funky. Megan was above the age of consent in France, which meant the police were very reluctant to get involved (they’ve been found now). I have a good friend, now in his late 40s, who had a 2 year affair with his 30 year old married teacher when he was 15. Was she a paedophile too? He broke her heart in the end. A 17 year old girl at my daughter’s school fell in love with her (female) music teacher. The teacher went to jail but the judge didn’t restrict contact after she came out — it was clearly a real relationship. Complexity is at the heart of many human relationships, and I don’t like it when people drag out the paedophile card at every turn. Which is why I wrote this blog.

    2. Christina 4 years ago

      Actually, I did read what you wrote, and understood it fully. And wasn’t saying he was a pedophile–the New Yorker article is just fresh in my mind. My apologies for lumping the two together. The relationship still is disturbing to me in that a teacher should not be involved in this way with a student. Post-graduation/age of consent? Whatever. Go for it. I did read that the teacher is married (though whether he’s separated or what, is unclear. Adding another rather dismaying note to the whole thing.

    3. Meg Rosoff 4 years ago

      It is a mess, Christina. And I also read the New Yorker article you’re talking about, which strikes me as something very different. Though there’s an overlap in that people involved in exploitative relationships often rationalise by believing it’s healthy and beneficial for the “victim” as well. I would very much like to talk to the teacher in this case and ask the question, “How were you thinking this would end?” It strikes me that his life has been ruined, and that hers, with any luck, has just experienced a peculiar blip. A 15 year old with a mad crush on her teacher is fairly normal. A married 30-year-old who acts on such attraction with seemingly no clue that the future he envisages (did he even envisage a future?) can not materialize is….a fantasist? Mentally unbalanced? Pathologically immature? What interests me is that there clearly is “love” involved — and madness, irresponsibility, betrayal of trust, self-delusion….it’s a long and sad list.

  8. Kirsten Baron 4 years ago

    I’m not going to add my opinion to this – I don’t know the people involved, so I can’t comment on rights or wrongs.
    Just wanted to tell you that your comments, Meg, reminded me of a thoughtful, sad short story by Eric Woolston called “Taken into care”. The adult male in the story is not a teacher, but it shines a different light on ‘wrong love’.

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