According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the proposed law will spell out prohibited behaviour by teachers towards students and provides additional safeguards for the children above the age of consent, which is 14 in China.
The rules will cover any other form of harassment that hurt the students physically or mentally. The draft includes offences like molesting students by groping or intentionally touching particular parts of their body, flirting, making sexually suggestive comments, or displaying any photograph or video that can be categorised as pornographic content.
It also requires schools to set up dormitories, camera surveillance, and mechanisms for preventing and reporting any incident of harassment. The violation of any of the rules can lead to a jail term of one to three years and suspension from the job.
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“Normally the teacher [accused of sexual harassment] will be assigned to other schools, instead of being punished for an ethics error,” Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, was quoted by the SCMP as saying. “With the future implementation of the teacher-student dating ban, this kind of thorny issue will be treated smoothly since it’s not right for them to date in the first place,” he said.
Mr Xiong said some teachers accused of sexual harassment have claimed that this was an injustice by arguing the relationship had been consensual.
Some have also objected to the banning of teacher-student dating, arguing that dating is every person’s legal right.
“But 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. If a teacher is dating a student, he or she would often give privilege to the student. This is unfair for other students,” said Mr Xiong. “So banning teacher-student dating is essentially to avoid interest exchanges.”
He urged the state authority to extend the ban to universities.
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