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The Chinese government is set to pass new laws banning teachers from having sex with their students.
In China, the age of sexual consent is just 14, and until now that has been the only legal obstacle to relationships between teachers and pupils.
But now a list of unacceptable behaviours that “hurt students’ physical and mental health”– including groping students or making sexually suggestive comments to them – is set to be banned by law for the first time.
For now, the proposed new legislation is being publicised to get a measure of how ordinary Chinese people feel about it. A count of public votes is being made on April 23.
Maggie Yang, from Shenzhen, is the mother of a 15-year-old girl. She says that she agrees with the teacher-student dating ban.
“I think dating is the business of adults,” she told Chinese news outlet Weixin. “How can we tolerate that a teacher dates a minor student?
“This rule should have been made earlier,” she added.
Under the proposed new rules, teachers would be banned from showing or sending to students any messages, books, magazines, films, videos, or pictures that contain pornographic content, as well as engaging in “inappropriate relationships”.
Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, says that different people have different ideas about the definition of an “inappropriate relationship”.
In some cases, teachers accused of sexual harassment claimed this was an injustice by arguing the relationship had been consensual, he said.
“Normally the teacher will be assigned to other schools, instead of being punished for an ethics error,” said Xiong.
He added that while some people claim that teachers and students have a human right to date each other if they choose “they don’t understand that a teacher can use the power from his position to induce or force students to date with him or her".
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