THE WAY I SEE IT #13 : By Darren Murphy

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BEING in a position of trust, it’s a commonly used legal term. It refers to a position of authority over another person or within an organization.

The only problem I have is I believe it’s much more than just a legal term, it’s a moral issue. An issue in the sense that anyone in a job where they are in a position of trust should know it’s their moral obligation to be trustworthy. It’s their moral obligation to follow the correct procedures and protocol their specific occupation requires.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case which is why we often read horror stories in the tabloids about people abusing their power. The situations vary drastically, it may be a police officer under scrutiny for the way he or she has conducted themselves. Perhaps harassing a specific person or using their power to make profit through corrupt means. Then again it could be a nursing home employee, neglecting their duties and leaving people under their care to suffer.

Whatever the situation the outcome is nearly always the same: innocent and good people suffer. These people fall victim to the people they should be able to trust the most, outwith their family and friends.

Without trying to scare any parents too much, when your child goes off to school in the morning you should be relatively convinced your son or daughter is going to be safe. Unfortunately for the parents of 15-year-old Megan Stammers, this was just wishful thinking. If you haven’t read the newspapers or watched the news this week, Megan has run away with her 30-year-old mathematics teacher, Jeremy Forrest.

I have no defence for Forrrest, whether Megan was voluntarily in a relationship with him or not – it simply doesn’t matter. He was a school teacher in a position of trust, and I use the past tense as I think it’s highly unlikely he will ever teach again. Anyway, the fact of the matter is Forrest has abused his position of trust. This man has broken the trust of his employers, his wife and the parent of every pupil he has ever taught.

The fresh revelation that the school and police knew about the relationship between teacher and student makes it so much worse. This situation should never have been allowed to happen, and the slightest hint of suspicion should have sparked the suspension of Forrest until the case had been thoroughly investigated.

The relationship between pupil and teacher should be no more than that, yet Forrest has conveniently ignored these boundaries. I’ve no problem with anyone in the teaching profession using social networks, but they should have private profiles – thus ensuring young students cannot build a dreamy persona of their teacher and their life outside school.

What’s apparent is the fact that holding down an occupation in a position of trust doesn’t instantly make you a good person, with good moral values. Trust is something which is built up over time, it’s something that people have to work at to achieve. Yet unfortunately for the parents of Megan, her selfish maths teacher abused his position to gain the trust of their daughter.

I hope that by the time you’re reading this, Forrest has found a shred of moral decency and returned Megan home to her family and friends.