ABC's GMA had a follow upon this story this morning about the reaction to it by viewers who posted hundreds of e-mails to them about it. The majority condemned the parents (as well as the coach), but a number were more willing to recognize the complex issues of raising a child, the fears of losing the child completely if they severely reacted and so on.
Yes, unfortunately, people love these very rare but fascinating stories in a perverse way. Many parents fear their child will end up in such a situation and in the last generation, we have really become very fearful about the sexual assault of minors. Politicians push stricter laws in reaction to this fear, and to get votes. Also, their is a generally accepted moral belief that such a relationship is wrong. Such stories will get attention in the media and attention = people reading and watching and more attention for the advertisers.
In the end, we have to look at this much like a complex airline crash. Over time, here were a number of failures by people to make the right decisions or any at all.
The Coach - The real criminal here was the coach. He made the decision to develop a relationship with this girl-woman against the law and generally accepted morality. He took advantage of this girl-woman for whatever perverse reasons he had. I would suspect that he has very serious psychological and emotional problems as to relationships with those of the opposite sex, with a preference for teen girls as can control them better over an adult woman.
The School system and peers of the coach - The should have been better policies to reduce improper contact and behavior between students and adult staff, to encourage peers of both the girl and the coach to report such behavior as would be at any other place of business. If proper policies were in place, then the 'affair' may not have gone very far. There is also a need for better 'character' education in schools on issues including sex and relationships to make up for the lack of it some kids don't get from parents. The school system also didn't deal well with the parents concerns about their beliefs as to the behavior of the coach, perhaps fearful of cost of disciplining the coach, lawsuits and pressure from the teacher's union.
The parents - Like far too many parents for a number of years didn't do their job. Perhaps they both work, didn't have the time to really give the attention to their child, kept track of her friends or activities, didn't check up on or limits their child's use of the internet and cell phone as don't know how to do so. Like too many parents today, they feared disciplining her and as a result they lost control and gave up their responsibility for her. Of course, they NEVER should had given consent for her to marry the coach. Apparently the parents did seek counseling from their ministers, but as one commentator on ABC's GMA noted, perhaps what was needed was family counseling earlier on how everybody could deal with this issues. The parents also could have attended a few of her athletic activity meets and seeing how their child behaved with the coach and peers. It is also possible that the father/mother may have treated their daughter in ways that drove her away from them. The parents also could have physically confronted the coach, even done an act of physical violence upon him as some here suggested they would have done, but most likely that would have led to them facing criminal charges.
Law enforcement - the local law enforcement should have listened to the complaints and concerns of the parents including contacting social services to look at the situation and move on the coach a lot sooner with considering legal actions including possible statutory rape and improper student-teacher, child-adult behaviors.
The girl - The girl should have know that such behavior is not in her best interest, was immoral and illegal, would hurt her relationships with her peers and hurt the coach. Perhaps she had psychological problems too, that triggered her accepting the advances of the coach.
Many of us have seen on TV
or in our lives such and similarly distressful situations. As I suggested before as to the complex issues that often cause airline accidents, we can learn from what went wrong here and put into place policy and education to reduce the risk of them in the future.