Re: What would you do? (Older male teacher with young female student)
*slowly raises hand...*
Um, can I just say that my fiance is 12 years older than me, was and is still my Aikido teacher, met when I was 20, dating when I was 21, been together for two years and we're now about to waltz into our happily ever after with our wedding just a month away, and not once did I feel like I was coerced or interested in his "power?" In fact, we ended up liking each other OFF the mat (because he's pretty much strict and professional and has the emotional capacity of a rock on the mat) so the whole teacher-student thing, especially to two consenting adults, pretty much means zilch to me, although one or two people did express the thought that it was "indecent."
Although I wonder if it's a cultural thing as my parents were actually quite supportive of it. Those people quickly changed their minds though, after getting to know me better, seeing us together, and what our relationship was able to bring out so we effectively have everyone's blessings.
I do think 17 is a bit young, but there are quite a few mature 17 year old out there who can handle older relationships. Like a previous poster, I had and have trouble connecting with boys my age and tend to prefer older company for more intellectual pursuits. Try convincing a typical 23 year old boy to indulge with you into the teachings of the Dalai Lama and you'd get quite a few blank stares.
Now, that's not to say there aren't strange and creepy and predatory people in ANY community, no matter which one you go to (I can't think of one that isn't, except maybe the deceased), that may prey on the weak and naive and defenseless--but at a certain point you have to say: I've given my child enough skills for him/her to know the signs, and to make informed decisions. I cannot protect him/her from all the evils of the world, so I need to trust that he/she will know what is best for himself/herself.
I think it depends on the age and maturity level of the child in question though, but requires the parent to truly know their child's capabilities, and not dismissing or downplaying it. I know all parents would be horrified if their children made a choice they don't agree with, regardless of age, but that the choice may not be "wrong." Just different.
If my child chose a path I disagreed with, and if it was not illegal to do so, I would express my displeasure but I would not stop them (unless of course it results in health or life-threatening situations) as long as they were not living under my roof. My house, my rules. Don't like it, you may leave and support yourself and be the adult you wish to be.
I do find the blanket statements about age and maturity (although often correlated, does not hold true all the time) a bit off putting, particularly because to many people, my age would afford the the respect of a "child." But my life experiences and responsibilities (multiple home-owner, multiple business owner, having been primary caretakers of hospitalized and aging grandparents and an immature younger sister when my own parents had other duties to attend to) would place me into the category of someone who is considerably older.
I also know of several people who are well into their late 30's and those well into their 70's who, although adult in a physical sense, are considerably childish in their emotional capacity and ability to deal with different situations.
So I guess my question is: who sets the standard for what counts as moral or immoral, decent or indecent, adult or child, when no laws have been broken?