China unveils new law against teacher-student ‘romances’ at elementary and secondary schools

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The draft regulation, unveiled on Tuesday by China’s Ministry of Education, is part of a package of provisions (in Chinese) designed to protect the “lawful rights and interests” of students while on campus. In a section dedicated to the prevention of sexual violations against minors, the draft stipulates that schools must create and complete guidelines for teacher-student interactions, and develop a working mechanism to “prevent, report, and address” sexual violations committed by educators. 

According to Article 35 of the legislation, schools need to take “necessary measures” to prohibit adults employed by schools and other persons entering the campus from participating in acts that are harmful to students’ physical and mental health, including having romantic or sexual relationships with students, showing them pornographic content, and making sexually suggestive remarks to them. 

In other parts of the document, the Ministry orders schools to protect various student rights, such as freedom of speech and action, equal access to educational and teaching facilities, and a non-excessive amount of homework. The Ministry also devoted several provisions to school bullying, directing teachers to handle reporting incidents of bullying in a timely manner, and encouraging school systems to discipline students who engage in bullying.

Describing it as an “ambitious” attempt by the Chinese government to create a “blueprint” for regulating the relationship between students and their schools, the China Law Translate project, which has translated most of the document into English and published the work on its website, noted that the draft was groundbreaking in acknowledging that “minors have rights” and “are able to assert them against authority.” 

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