Social Question

saint's avatar

What do you have to say about the matter of Brenda Harding?

Asked by saint (3967 points ) October 25th, 2011

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/25/brenda-harding-canon-city_n_1030510.html?icid=maing-grid7|maing11|dl1|sec1_lnk3|107375
I am putting this in Social so any comments will be appropriate. There is something about this particular case that I find more unsettling than similar others, and I am not sure exactly why. What do think when you read about this?

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20 Answers

Judi's avatar

UGH. So sad. Stupid selfish people who think nothing about teh impact of tehir actions on the more vulnerable people around them.

Blackberry's avatar

@Judi Oh, please. It was a relationship. How was she supposed to know he was going to kill himself? I’m sure adults have done the same.

The older woman should have known better, but these things happen. Also, what 15 year old needs a babysitter?

wonderingwhy's avatar

Just poor judgement all the way around.

SuperMouse's avatar

No 30 year-old, be they man or woman has any business at all having sexual relations with a 15 year-old.

keobooks's avatar

I don’t think any 30 year old should have sex with a 15 year old. I am not defending that.

But I seriously wonder why he had a babysitter at that age. That’s just weird. He’s almost old enough to drive a car and was likely in high school. Was he mentally disabled? Did he have a severe emotional or psychological disorder that didn’t allow him to be left alone? If either are true, that makes the story worse.

But what was the deal with that? Lots of kids are babysitters at 15. I don’t even think that they call 15 year olds latch key kids if they come home from school unsupervised.

trailsillustrated's avatar

My god. My son is 15 and I would be disturbed if he had a relationship with a 30 year old. She couldn’t have known he would kill himself but still, what 30 year old does a 15 year old. How very sad.

Judi's avatar

@Blackberry , I think I was talking about both of them. The kid AND the woman. I have had a husband and a brother commit suicide and I think that’s just as selfish as taking advantage of a child.

linguaphile's avatar

My first thought was, “Thank goodness she’s not a teacher.”

blueiiznh's avatar

The most disturbing part is “What are the parents doing to not know what is going on in the lives of their children?”

wundayatta's avatar

It wasn’t the teacher’s fault, but unless I misunderstood, the son’t death was the father’s fault. He told her to back off and she did. The son couldn’t handle it and killed himself.

Maybe the relationship wasn’t appropriate or maybe we are way too prudish in this society. Fifteen is old enough to fall in love. Would I want my son to fall in love with someone twice his age? No. But it happens.

I suspect there is much more to this story. The boy maybe had “mommy” issues. The father may also have had similar issues. He might have been jealous. In any case, I’m not sure he had his son’s best interests when he stopped the relationship. It’s easy to say, on a pro forma basis, “tut-tut” and isn’t it awful, but what is awful is the death, which was probably caused by the end of the relationship.

The boy was disturbed, and the pain of loss at that age is something most people forget. Propriety led to a lack of concern for the feelings of the boy. Now he’s dead. If it’s because of the father, I’m glad he’ll have to live with it the rest of his life. There’s more to life than propriety.

Judi's avatar

@wundayatta, Would you feel the same way if it were a 15 tear old girl and a 30 year old man? It probably wouldn’t make the news, but it is child abuse no matter what gender.

linguaphile's avatar

@wundayatta Brenda was not a teacher. I was saying thank GOODNESS she isn’t… she was the babysitter.

keobooks's avatar

@wundayatta , if we are going to make up our own behind the scenes versions of the stories, I’ll add mine.

You could argue that 15 is old enough to fall in love, is a 15 year old who still needs a babysitter mature enough to make that decision? Fifteen years old can mean just about anything maturity wise. Some girls are already mothers and in the mid 20th century in some states, they could be married and have kids already. But there is something off. This kid was way too young for a 30 year old girlfriend—and not just because he was 15.

What if the reason that this 15 year old young man had a babysitter at his ridiculous age was because he was emotionally unstable and had a history of suicidal attempts and other self destructive behaviors. Even if were an adult under her supervision in this situation, she’d be abusing her position power over him.

I don’t think it’s fair to blame the father for this. You can’t just let someone just do whatever they want because you’re afraid they will kill themselves. That’s not reasonable. The father was doing what he thought was the best for his son. Perhaps he should have put his son on suicide watch.. But to blame him because he ended an inappropriate relationship is a bit much.

linguaphile's avatar

The term “babysitter” has the connotation of someone who is taking care of young children. I got the impression from the article that his dad left for days or weeks at a time for work, and that he moved in with Brenda to be taken care of. I don’t think it was the typical “Friday Night Babysitter” but someone who watched the 15 year old while his dad was out of town.

When my son was 15 and I had to go out of town for a couple days, I sent him to a friend’s house. There’s no way I would leave a 15 year old home alone for more than a night—they might be able to physically take care of themselves but most 15 year olds don’t have the best decision making skills related to risk-taking.

I’m also wondering if this Brenda person started off as the kid’s support system and he felt like he lost that. It’s hard to say from the article.

wundayatta's avatar

You all have good points. We don’t know what the relationship was really like before it was ended by the father, nor why the father felt it necessary to have someone take care of a fifteen-year old. I could make up more back story there, too.

This kind of thing is not universally considered child abuse around the world. The ages of consent are lower in other countries, even in European countries. So I don’t want it taken for granted that there is a universally acceptable age of consent. I don’t know what the right age of consent is. My daughter, who is 15, is old enough to know what she wants (and she doesn’t want a relationship).

I don’t know what was going on with this boy.

What does bother me is that the father seems to get off scott free, as if the blame was all on the baby sitter, and he was all innocent. It seems to me he wasn’t paying enough attention to his son, especially if the son had special needs. It sounds like he was completely angry when he found out, and shot from the hip. He didn’t even bother to find out anything about what was going on. But of course I don’t know that.

If the boy had problems, then they should have consulted with a professional when they did this, so the boy could have been assessed for suicide risk or other risks.

I don’t know. Perhaps this is just a kneejerk reaction and really, there’s too little to go on, but I don’t like the father and the way the father thought, or didn’t think. I don’t think it was all the baby sitter’s fault. The father had to lose his son, and that’s bad enough, except if he has a lot of responsibility for this, then I wish he could have learned how to be a better father long before this happened. The baby sitter is getting all the blame and I don’t think that’s justified based on what we know now.

linguaphile's avatar

@wundayatta She is not a teacher…. :(

wundayatta's avatar

Sorry @linguaphile I didn’t mean to say that the second post. But I fixed it. Thanks for the warning.

linguaphile's avatar

@wundayatta There’s something lately about that T word and teenage boys… like the P word and little boys. So when it’s not a teacher, I’m relieved.

martianspringtime's avatar

I don’t really think it’s a terribly unique situation. Yes, it’s very sad that he committed suicide. No, I’m not defending the issue of a 30 year old was with a 15 year old. But I don’t think she has anything to do with his suicide (any more than anyone does who has been in any kind of relationship with someone who has committed suicide).

It’s ridiculous that it seems they’re trying to pin his death on her. People don’t usually just commit suicide because they’re upset about a relationship – it usually goes a lot deeper than that, and has more to do with the troubled individual than someone else. If he had been in a relationship with a 15 year old girl who had recently broken up with him, and he still committed suicide, would they say it was her fault?
I guess I can understand that they want someone to blame, and that she’s an obvious choice since she’s done something illegal to begin with, but I don’t see the connection.

snowberry's avatar

Pedophilia aside, all this arguing about whether a 15 year old is too young to have a babysitter…The answer is sometimes it’s a really smart idea. For example, my sister in law had four boys about 2 or less years apart. When they all hit their teen years, you can bet they weren’t left alone. They had a tendency to rough house which could end up in trashing the house. In addition, they were hormonal to the extreme and irresponsible, so they didn’t fix or clean up after themselves. They learned the hard way NOT to leave those kids alone!

So yes, sometimes a 15 year old needs a baby sitter. Granted, my nephews were not parented well, but maybe this kid was not either. There are too many personality types, and too many variables. You just don’t know.

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