I’m looking for a short story I read in about the mid-oughts (2003–2005 or so). I remember it being in a digest-sized mag, probably F&SF, but it could have been Asimov’s or maybe even Analog.
Warning: spoilers ahead.
The story starts with a psychiatrist interviewing someone, I believe a male teacher, who’s about to go to trial after being accused of inappropriately touching a child. It’s from the psychiatrist’s pov so you assume at the beginning that the teacher is guilty.
The story is set in the future and time travel is possible. You can’t actually enter the past scene, but you can experience it (definitely see and hear it, probably smell and taste it). So you get dropped into the middle of the scenario, but you can’t be affected by it or affect it.
What we learn is that children are taken back to experience the horrors of war first-hand—the blood, the gore, the awfulness—so that they will never want to wage war themselves. It’s an effort to wipe out all war.
Turns out that a small child—I’m remembering s/he was 4—started crying, and the teacher picked him/her up to console her. It was only “inappropriate” because the teachers weren’t supposed to make the kids feel better during the time travel. (It’s possible that all cuddling of children has been banned, but I can’t remember for sure.)
Thus the touching wasn’t inappropriate from our current standards, and the reader now views the teacher in a completely different light, sympathizing with him.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Anyone? Bueller?