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

Updated on November 28, 2015

Men and Women Relationship

Universal symbol of a man and a woman holding hands
Universal symbol of a man and a woman holding hands | Source

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.

Is it OK for a Teacher and Student to Date?

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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.

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 | Source

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.


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    • adjkp25 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northern California

      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 profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      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.

    • adjkp25 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northern California

      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 profile image

      Amy Gillie 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      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.

    • adjkp25 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northern California

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

    • Nare Anthony profile image

      Nare Gevorgyan 

      7 years ago

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

    • adjkp25 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northern California

      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 profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      7 years ago from Planet Earth

      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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