Yesterday saw the culmination of a trial involving an Oxfordshire primary school teacher for sexual acts on minors. When I say minors I do mean under 10 years old. Now, you may think this is just another piece of horrible news. Well, in my house it is much more than that because my daughter was one of his pupils. Belay that gasp and stall your rampant thoughts a minute for my daughter was not touched. Thank you, though, for your concern.
Let me say now my heart goes out to the abused children and their families and to the family of the man involved. He had the decency to admit to the crimes once confronted and prevented the children having to go through the court required ritual of being questioned and questioned and questioned.
My personal grave point is that I came across a paedophile and didn’t know. How many of us seriously believe that we would know, we just would, if a man was an abuser of children? It would show. We would get a ‘vibe’ or his manner of relating to the kids would expose him or the children themselves would be uncomfortable around him. Readers, none of these things is true. Even now I would tell you he is one of the most brilliant teachers I have ever come across. He knows how to engage a class, he can tease exceptional answers from the most reserved child, he is funny to the point of being clown-like, the children would clamour for his attention and I only ever met one person who didn’t genuinely like him. That person? My son. I didn’t understand my son’s reservations, his automatic dislike of this fabulous teacher with his wonderful skills that put children at their ease and, when questioned, my son could not explain it either. He just knew Mr X was ‘not nice’. Mr X knew of my son’s dislike and tried to befriend him but it didn’t happen and they had a mutually silent agreement to stay out of each other’s way. I never knew of this until after the serious accusations took place. He’d helped my daughter through her fear of maths and pulled her out of bottom set to top set so I had no reservations. I automatically thought my son was at fault and being disagreeable. I hate myself for that, for questioning my son’s dislike. For thinking he might be attention-seeking or even, God help me, jealous that Mr X favoured my daughter above him.
We teach our children to be mistrustful of strangers at the same time as we teach them to trust adults to look out for us. We teach them to trust and like people because mistrust leads to hatred leads to – all sorts. What we ought to be doing is letting our inner child out and trusting our instincts rather than be guided by what we see. There is a saying: judge a person by his actions. Well, they refer merely to bad actions=bad people. But anyone can do a bad deed and cloak it with good ones. Cloak it so well and with such a winning smile that you are blinded. I have lost faith in my ability to judge people, if I ever had any ability at all, and I am finding it increasingly hard to smile and like people I have never met before. I am finding it hard to evaluate my children’s disagreements with other children. I am finding it hard to believe in myown judgement.
Mr X’s actions have been far-reaching and, like a droplet of clear poison into a placid lake, its ripples will reach far and we won’t see the damage until it floats to the surface.
A sad and dimmed Diwali.