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Inappropriate Relationships Between Teachers and Students, Discussing Acceptable Couple Age Separation

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Men and Women Relationship

Universal symbol of a man and a woman holding hands

Universal symbol of a man and a woman holding hands

Does Age Matter in a Relationship

We all know a couple or two that are basically the same age; my wife and I are only separated by five and a half months. I also know a buddy whose wife and himself are only a couple of days apart. To be honest our society really doesn’t care when a couple are so close to each others age, probably because it just seems normal. It also doesn’t seem to be too big of a problem if there is a substantial age difference, as long as both of the members in the couple are “middle aged” or older. However our society has a huge problem when a grown adult is dating a younger person; say late teens or even early twenties.

Age Difference in Relationships

The short answer is probably yes. Many people don’t pay too much attention to an older man marrying a younger woman, even if he is sixty and she is thirty five. The couple might get odd looks and she might be accused of marrying him for his money, unless he doesn’t have a large fortune, but for the most part people will leave them alone. Some men have even become icons because, despite their age, they seem to always have a very young attractive lady escorting them at all times. Tough life for that Hugh Hefner guy huh?

An older woman tying the knot with a younger man is also no big deal; we even have coined a term for it. If you have ever heard of the term “cougar” it is referring to an older woman who appeals to younger men. A TV show has been created about cougars and dating websites have been launched catering to clientele interested in being a cougar, or dating one; again, no problem here from the public opinion.

Where it starts to get complicated is when the couple has a very young participant, especially if that younger individual is still school age.

Inappropriate Relationships

How many times have we heard about a teacher, male or female, having a sexual relationship with a student? I don’t have an exact number to share but in my opinion one time is too much.

Parents have a certain amount of trust that when they drop their kids off at school they are going to take care of their child. This is another reason why school shootings are so difficult to hear about because schools should be recognized as some kind of protected and safe area for our children to be at. We have confidence that the teachers and administrators have our kids’ best interest at heart and will do everything they can to ensure their safety. Unfortunately some teachers have taken this responsibility a little too seriously and crossed the line into beginning relationships with their students.

I’m not referring to a Facebook relationship or something like that; I’m talking about dating and eventually developing a physical relationship.

Student Teacher Relationships

Mary Kay Letourneau

I remember back in the mid 1990’s hearing about a teacher who had an inappropriate relationship with a male student. Her name was Mary Kay Letourneau and she was having sexual relations with a student who was thirteen at the time. Their relationship eventually led to her conceiving two children with him and jail time for her, where she ultimately gave birth to both children. Long story short they are now married; she has taken his last name of Fualaau, and they haven’t had anymore children.

Recently another teacher student relationship has received national attention in Modesto, California. Modesto is kind of in the middle of the central valley of California and I just happen to live about thirty minutes from there.

School Teacher and Student

Reports state that their relationship started when he was thirty-nine and she was sixteen but the couple maintains that no sexual contact was made until she turned eighteen. Their story wasn’t much different than Mary Kay’s because Hooker was married and had kids just like she did; ironically Powers is basically the same age as Hooker’s oldest child.

He left his wife to move in with his younger girlfriend alienating his family and his friends. In the same motion he managed to make a bigger enemy, Powers’ mother Tammie. Her disapproval was obvious and their drama even made it onto the Dr. Phil show.

Teacher Teaching Students

A teacher teaching students outdoors

A teacher teaching students outdoors

Political Participation

Of course a case like this causes adults to wonder if something could have been done to discourage this kind of relationship. Unfortunately there isn’t always an easy answer to this kind of inquiry. However a local Modesto politician, Kristin Olsen-R, just had to try to draft legislation that would have restricted this kind of relationship. Not only would the legislation have made this kind of connection a felony but it would have stripped the teacher in question of their benefits and pension. On paper it made sense but it lost support when the law would have penalized the teacher even if the student was a legally consenting adult, in California that is eighteen years old.

Personal Relationships

Every parent is asking themselves what they can do to not have this happen to them. As a father of a daughter I know it is something that I have thought about. I don’t know the family situation on either side here but I hope that we have created a decent enough relationship with our daughter that we would have an open line of communication between us when she starts dating.

I’m not sure that we, as parents, can ever stop our young adults from doing something like this. Part of life is real world learning and this situation might just be one for Powers.

Shortly after moving in together Hooker was charged with an inappropriate relationship with a minor in the 1990’s (shocking) and Powers moved out. While many people thought she had come to her senses about the whole relationship, rumors have been swirling that she actually moved back in with him just a couple of weeks later. How this story ends remains to be seen.


Jason B Truth from United States of America on October 27, 2020:

David? I don't necessarily agree with everything you stated in your article. Nonetheless, I still found it informative. For example, I was aware of Kristin Olsen's bill attempting to extend the statutory age of consent beyond 18 years old in California pertaining to teacher/student relationships; but until I read your article, I was completely unaware that this same bill had died in legislation.

Interestingly enough, when you go to other nations like those in Southern Europe, society doesn't seem to be as concerned about teenagers younger than 18 years old dating outside their peer circles as here in the United States of America. French president Emmanuel Macron is married to a woman over twenty years his senior, who is now the first lady of France. Rumor has it that he started his romantic involvement with her when he was only 14 years old and she was in her late thirties. After his parents found out about it, their only concern was whether she would still be medically capable of giving them grandchildren by the time their son wanted to start a family.

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I completely get it that the United States of America is different from the rest of the world in that respect. What bothers me about the American culture is that same-age relationships among adolescents are so overrated. Take the examples of Josh Duggar and Toby Willis. Both of them married their high-school sweethearts before they were 23 years of age, and everyone thought that it was so cute here in our nation. However, these two men later on turned out to be absolute monsters, and the public at large cancelled them both. Toby Willis is currently in prison serving a sentence of four decades for raping his own daughters from the time they were toddlers. Josh Duggar no longer appears on television.

I guess it is paternal instinct for you always to feel protective of your daughter. What really bewilders me, however, is how our society will obsess over teenage girls going outside their peer circles in search of romance, but then our society continues to turn a blind eye to the epidemic of deadbeat teenage fathers throughout our nation that is harming girls as young as 11 and 12 years old more than anything.

I can imagine that when a father finds out that his 13-year-old daughter is pregnant and the 14-year-old boy who knocked her up is a first-class jerk, the first thing that that father wants to do is beat the tar out of the boy. Of course, he cannot do so, because then he'd be charged with child abuse and assault and battery of a child, ironically. When girls this young in forbidden relationships with older men are getting treated better by their older boyfriends than underage mothers are so by their 14-, 15- or 16-year-old baby daddies, it doesn't really say very much about the parents of these same deadbeat teenage fathers.

Not too long ago in your state of origin (Idaho), there was a case in which a 40-something-year-old male teacher had gotten arrested for having an affair with a 17-year-old female student, and he was subsequently acquitted of the related criminal charges by jury nullification. That is, the jury knew that he had broken the law, but they didn't feel that his actions merited prison time or even a conviction. I'd be interested in knowing all the details about that court case that led up to that man's "non guilty" jury verdict.

Out of curiosity, do you now live in California and you used to live in Idaho? You mentioned in your article that you currently lived 30 minutes away from Modesto, California. However, your HubPages channel indicates that you're from Idaho.

David (author) from Idaho on May 02, 2012:

picklesandrufus - I know I wouldn't want my son or daughter involved with a teacher but if they are 18 there isn't much we can do, unless they still live at home. I certainly hope they will date someone close to their age. Thanks for sharing your story.

picklesandrufus from Virginia Beach, Va on May 02, 2012:

Good hub. As a parent, I would not want my child involved with a teacher, but remember it happening in my school way back when. She was a senior and he was her teacher. When she graduated, they married and stayed married for years. Not mine to judge, but can't help but have a negative opinion of it in general. Thanks for bringing up the topic.

David (author) from Idaho on April 28, 2012:

Amy - Our children(s) safety is always such a huge concern for parents, I know it is for us. School shouldn't be a place where our kids can be hurt physically, emotionally or anything else. Thanks

Amy Gillie from Indiana on April 27, 2012:

Nice job! As a parent with kids just entering school, it's scary to think of dropping them off anywhere, let alone someplace that may not be safe. Thanks for writing this.

David (author) from Idaho on April 27, 2012:

Nare - thanks, I'm glad you liked it.

Nare Gevorgyan on April 26, 2012:

I have once liked my teacher, but the age difference was really huge :D Thanks for the great hub! Voting up!

David (author) from Idaho on April 26, 2012:

Marcy - Thanks. My parents are about six years apart and like the couple you mentioned nobody would have any clue. Thanks for commenting and I share your curiosity on what other individuals feel regarding this topic.

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on April 26, 2012:

The student/teacher issues is definitely volatile. A minor under 18 is far different from a man or woman 25 (even if they're not too mature yet). As you point out, society frowns on the student/teacher situation, whereas there might be eye-rolling when a mid-20s person chooses a relationship with someone quite older. Or an older person develops a romantic liaison with someone two decades younger.

One of the happiest and best couples I know has an 12-year age span (the woman is older). As with many women, she looks much younger than her age, acts younger, and the couple blends quite well. Only if you know them closely do you know there's an age gap, because you'd never know it from looks, personalities, interests, physical shape or the love and devotion they show.

This is a very interesting topic - I'll be curious to see the comments you get here.

Voted up, useful and interesting.

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