Recently Chinese social media has been rocked by news about the suicide of a beautiful 26-year-old female author from Taiwan who had been haunted for years by an alleged rape by her tutor. The public pays much attention to the numerous cases where teachers sexually harass their students and wants it to stop.
In my opinion, student-teacher romance is never OK, regardless of genders, ages, or whether there are physical actions involved or not.
Such relationships are against China’s traditional ethical code. I speak for myself and many of my friends whom I consulted on this matter when I say it’s never right for a teacher to be with a student, just like it’s never right for an adult to be with somebody younger than 18.
There are always cases where students develop romantic feelings toward their teachers because, let’s face it, it’s human nature.
Many girls like older men, and boys prefer older women, not to mention that teachers are usually nice, knowledgeable and respectable. From the teacher’s perspective, sometimes it’s hard not to notice the young, good-looking and energetic students.
I worked as a teacher for a few years. I taught foreign students Chinese at a university. My students came from all over the world and were in different age groups. There were teenagers preparing to get a bachelor’s degree, job-seeking adults, and middle-aged expats who were in management at international companies.
It was not uncommon to find sweet notes from a teenage boy in my textbooks, or receive dinner invitations or even romantic gifts like necklaces.
But it’s unethical for a teacher to return their sentiments in any way, even if there’s no actual physical contact involved. Flirting might evolve into inappropriate touching, and then into committing crimes. Even if they never go further than dinner conversations and exchanging gifts, they’ve still crossed boundaries.
It’s unethical and illegal for adults to have a relationship with minors. Some people may disagree, but I think it’s the same for adult students.
The job of a teacher comes with authority, respect and power, which can be exploited. It’s unfair to the students involved and the other students too.