Here again is your intrepid reporter, Helena Parris, with yet another blood-curdling tale of crime in the schools. This time the heinous act occurred in St. Mary's Primary School in Northern Ireland. The criminal: Mrs. Lavery, the school dinner lady.
The crime: A student asked her for a biscuit (we Yanks would call it a cookie). And she-- gave him one.
According to the BBC article referenced above, "Dinner lady, Mrs Lavery, who was a relative of the child, had to attend three meetings, firstly with the acting principal then two with the school principal."
Why? Was this a new program targeting school obesity? No, it goes deeper. According to Mrs. Lavery's husband, the school warned Mrs. Lavery that she "could be seen by her actions as grooming a child" for sexual abuse.
No doubt you are thinking what I first thought. "Holy toledo! I've given cookies to kids! I had no idea I was a sick, twisted pervert! In the name of public safety, I should go jump off a bridge right now!"
Now, now. The school did not accuse her of molesting children. It only warned her, in three meetings, one with the acting principal and one with the school principal that lasted an hour, that her actions could be taken the wrong way, and she should never deal out cookies to small children ever again. And then for the next two years (this story has only just made the headlines over at the Beeb) Mrs. Lavery was whispered about by other school personnel. And I thought I was the leper of the school cafeteria. At least nobody suspected me of criminal activity.
Oddly enough, neither did St Mary's. The administrators never thought Mrs. Lavery was a child molester. Referring back to the article, "In a statement, the board pointed out that "at no time did it consider this to be a child protection issue, if it had, then appropriate action would have been implemented immediately."
Thus, clearly, the school only warned her that other people could get the idea that she might be a child molester. And then it made sure that other people got the idea that she might be a child molester.
So, to sum up: the cookie-lady is not a child molester. But the school came down on her hard. Are you suspecting what I'm suspecting? Yep. It's not about sex abuse.
Come on, people. Let's quit fooling ourselves. Haven't you ever opened a new bag of Oreos, intending to "have just one," and next thing you know the package is half-empty and you're sitting in front of the TV set watching reruns and thinking about maybe "having just one more"? And then wondering how you're going to explain the lack of Oreos to all the other people in the house? Maybe formulating a little plan to sneak off to the grocery store for a fresh bag?
The school officials are right. Cookies are the dangerous new drug that is destroying our moral fiber and our waistlines. Do not give them to children. It's just too dangerous. One cookie is only the first step to cookie-intoxication, then cookie-abuse.
I might as well admit it. I, too, am a cookie-abuser. There have been times I will bake an entire batch of them, then eat them over a span of two days. I like to eat them while watching Scooby Doo reruns. I'm so ashamed.