Juicy gossip floats as Malaysian police probe alleged romance between teacher and student

What happens when a teacher falls in love, or is said to be in love, with a student?

A composite image depicting a romantic student-teacher relationship
An alleged love affair between a teacher and her student has sparked a lively debate about teachers, love and sexual grooming in Malaysia. (Photo: Getty Images)

An alleged love affair between a teacher and her student has sparked a lively debate about teachers, love and sexual grooming in Malaysia.

It has resulted in the married female teacher, 37, being suspended from work and investigated by police.

The matter came to light when a relative of the 17-year-old student tweeted her frustration that despite being told to stop, the relationship between the two was continuing.

According to reports, the X user tweeted that she was forced to use social media as she could no longer tolerate it, adding that her younger brother was in a close relationship with the secondary school teacher.

New Straits Times reported that she also claimed that although the teacher was transferred to another school, they still communicated and had met secretly recently.

Teacher allegedly kissed student, left red marks on his neck

The tweet was subsequently removed, but not before it went viral and created a sensation among those who love a juicy gossip or two. Its not often that Malaysians hear of a female teacher being more than cozy with her student.

Apparently, the relationship was discovered by his family when the student returned home from school with red marks on his neck last December, which he attributed to a kiss from his teacher.

According to one report, it was found that the two shared messages declaring their love for one another. Apparently, one of the messages said the teacher was flattered by the constant declaration of love by the student.

On 24 March, the police chief of Sepang district in Selangor, Assistant Commissioner Wan Kamarul Azran Wan Yusof, confirmed that police had found a bruise-like red mark on the neck of the student.

He said the student had stayed back for a while with the teacher in the school library instead of returning home from school at 4.50pm on 12 December, 2023.

"The victim claimed that he was hugged and kissed by the suspect, who is a mathematics teacher, until it left a bruise-like red mark on his neck," Wan Kamarul Azran said in a statement.

Education Ministry suspends teacher

On 29 March, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek said the teacher had been suspended pending the outcome of investigations. She also said that the teacher had no access to the student concerned.

Such cases – though few - happen everywhere and not just in Malaysia.

For instance, Global Times of China reported in February that a married female teacher at a Shanghai high school had been suspended from duties after she was suspected of being involved in a love affair with her 16-year-old male student.

An investigation had been started, it said, adding that screenshots of WeChat conversations between the teacher and her student went viral, showing their exchanges “filled with flirts and containing information that they intended to or had more intimate behavior at hotel rooms or mini cinemas”.

Apparently, the affair was exposed by the teacher’s husband, who posted the student’s real name and photo.

The Times of India reported last year that a 27-year-old teacher and her 16-year-old student had fallen in love and eloped in Hyderabad, India.

However, they were found 21 days at the house of the teacher’s relative, counselled and sent back to their respective families by police.

Singapore teacher jailed 33 months

In June 2019, a female teacher in Singapore was jailed 33 months for having sex with her 15-year-old student.

Quoting court documents, Today Online reported that they had been in a nine-month relationship, texting each other sexually-charged messages, meeting secretly near their homes and going for movies, all of which led them to become physically intimate.

Such cases, of course, happen more frequently in western nations.

But I am wondering if it is wrong for a student to fall in love with his teacher, or for a teacher to fall in love with her student.

Let’s not talk about university students, just school students.

Students have crushes on teachers

Most secondary school students have crushes on their teachers. A girl may come to have a crush on a male teacher who is handsome or charming or caring, and a boy may similarly develop a crush for a female teacher who is beautiful, charming or caring or sexy.

Ask any adult and they will admit that they did feel infatuation for a teacher or two.

But these are harmless crushes that develop due to hormones within us becoming super active during our teen years.

What about real love?

When I was in school, I heard that the wife of one of our most feared teachers was his former student.

I personally know of someone who married his student. Their love for each other – he was then a fresh graduate - was kept secret and they got married after she started working. They are living happily together.

Sexual grooming of students

There is also a dark side to this when teachers take advantage of their students’ gullibility or need for recognition or attention.

There have been cases of what is known as sexual grooming, where adults develop relationships by engaging in normal interactions to earn the trust of their victims and then gradually introducing physical and sexual contact.

This happens in most parts of the world, including between teachers and students.

But not all cases are about sexual grooming. Some are consensual.

Society expects teachers to guide students, not fall in love

If the student is underage, then it becomes an unlawful act and the teacher can be charged in court.

But even if there is no legal basis for action, society considers such relationships with disapproval. More so if the teacher is married and has children of her own.

This is because we expect teachers to be role models for their students. We expect them to have higher ethics than others. We expect them to guide their students to become disciplined and responsible individuals who can face the world confidently and skilfully.

It’s perfectly all right for a teacher to fall in love with a teacher but questions are sure to arise if a teacher falls in love with a student.

Society accepts that students and teachers have feelings, but it expects teachers to know better and not cross the line. Parents expect teachers to be the substitute parent in class, not a lover.

But the problem with love is that it can spring a surprise and arise at anytime and anywhere – between teenagers, between co-workers, between senior citizens and even between teachers and students.

A.Kathirasen is a veteran Malaysian journalist/editor who has been writing columns, with breaks, in newspapers and online since 1981. All views expressed are the writer's own.

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