Internet message boards and news sites in China were ablaze earlier this week when photographs showing a male teacher kissing and being kissed by a number of his high school students were published online. The photos were allegedly taken during a mini graduation ceremony in the students’ homeroom, with the teacher having told the girls “Unless you kiss me or let me kiss you, I’m not giving you your graduation certificate.”
Though perhaps all was not quite as it seemed…
- “No kiss, no graduation certificate.”
The six photographs were uploaded to China’s microblogging site Sina Weibo on August 20. Along with the photos, the uploader wrote:
“At XX High School in Linxia, Gansu Province, Mr. XX told us, ‘Unless you kiss me or let me kiss you, I’m not giving you your graduation certificate.’” (Our omissions.)
The photos are believed to have been taken during this year’s graduation season, which is usually around June or July in mainland China, though why they were shared only recently is not yet clear.
- Immediate suspension
Unsurprisingly, the photos went viral in the blink of an eye. Head teachers at the school confirmed that the photos had indeed been taken in one of their classrooms, and identified the member of staff involved, who is believed to be a third-grade homeroom teacher. A meeting was immediately called, after which the teacher – who is reported to be an otherwise dedicated member of staff with an excellent track record – was suspended while the board of education investigated the matter further.
- “The comments written online are false.”
After the images went viral and news reached them of the subsequent investigation, a number of the students involved took to their Weibo accounts asserting that the rumours were in fact false. One student explained the situation thus:
“On the day of our graduation, when our teacher handed out our certificates, we were completely overcome with emotion. To show their sincere appreciation, people started shaking his hand, bowing to him and clinging onto him–we were the ones who initiated it. When the very last student went up to get her certificate, she said, ‘Everyone kiss Mr. XX!’”
The final photo, which shows the teacher returning a kiss, is apparently the only time the action happened in reverse, with him finally giving in to his students’ demands to do so.
Other students from the class also commented online: “We are all adults now. We can make our own decisions. None of us would do something that we didn’t want to, even if our teacher had told us to,” and, “The comments written online are false. The person who wrote them should apologise immediately to our teacher.”
- Justice prevails
Thankfully, it would appear that the education authorities conducting the investigation into the matter have consented that the comments initially posted alongside the photographs were in fact false. Quite why someone would make such allegations – affecting this man’s life possibly forever with just a few keystrokes – is unknown, but no doubt many teachers across the land will be especially wary of their students taking photos in the classroom from now on should they suddenly appear online out of context.
But the photographed teacher is not out of the woods yet. Authorities have consented that the incident was by no means as scandalous as it may have appeared at first, but have nevertheless chosen to take disciplinary action against the teacher, stating that no matter the circumstances it is entirely inappropriate for a teacher to kiss their students. The teacher will be sent for re-education and the matter will continue to be investigated, but at this point at appears that his job will be safe.