EYE contact, smiling, joking and making your students feel comfortable are all part of being a good educator. But what happens when the relationship becomes romantic?
Crushes and relationships turned sour, have, at times, ended really badly. And yet, some romances have turned into great love stories.
Dangers of such controversial relationships heightened after a former United States middle school Mathematics teacher, Stephanie Ragusa, was accused of repeated sexual encounters with students aged 14 and 16.
The 31-year-old pleaded guilty, this month, to three counts of lewd and lascivious battery and two counts of unlawful sex with a minor.
SEGi College Subang Jaya's head of the school of psychology and student counsellor Marian Arumugam, who has noticed a rise in such incidents, says it's fairly common for female students to idolise their male teachers.
"As a professional teacher, it is important that they remember and are aware of the proximity within a relationship when trying to support individual students with their learning. These days, it may be a bigger issue as the age gap between the teacher and student can be narrow.
"Some students choose to postpone their studies while many teachers are just starting out in their profession. This is when testosterone and hormone levels are running high."
For many cases, Marian says, the problem is the teacher's misuse of power and control over the student. However, some students can be just as controlling.
"A relationship may begin innocently whereby the teacher is offering guidance and support in an effort to make the individual student feel comfortable. Either party may smile, crack jokes and cajole each other but it becomes no joke when the line is crossed."
Marian says relationships often begin in secrecy because both parties may feel the need to keep it behind closed doors for as long as possible, but the secret does not last long.
"The secrecy of the relationship can cause conflict, especially if it translates to the classroom setting. For example, the student is easily distracted and both parties are unable to concentrate on the task at hand.
"Some may even act up in class and expect more attention from the teacher because they have a special relationship. Unfortunately, the other students in the class will suffer as a result."
As regards school and college managements, Marian says they have an active role in preventing such relationships from the beginning.
"The authorities should ensure their teachers do not lose grip of reality and maintain a proper standard or professionalism.
"If such incidences occur, it can damage the reputation of the school. Hence, it is an issue that should be dealt with as soon as it arises and not brushed aside. It is imperative that teachers know their limits and don't cross the line."
Marian adds that relationships that have turned sour may result in much emotional turmoil.
"Once the relationship is out in the open, gossip is likely to occur. In some cases, parents have sought legal action against the teacher's behaviour, particularly if the student is a minor."
Marian says one possible explanation for the rise in such incidents is that children are maturing a lot faster these days. Many adolescents are behaving and trying to look older than they really are. They are trying to impress and persuade the opposite sex; hence inappropriate relationships can occur at an earlier age."
What are some of the warning signs?
"Most of the time parents will notice that their child's school performance is affected. For example, their exam grades drop, their behaviour changes, they become more withdrawn, unresponsive, and spend more time on their appearance.
"In some cases, particularly those that have gone sour and ugly, both individuals can behave anxiously, and be verbally abusive and aggressive towards each other."
University Malaya Medical Centre senior lecturer and consultant psychiatrist Dr Subash Kumar believes the problem can also arise from reactive attachment issues.
"I would not say that it's a tendency for most students, but some do fall in love with their teachers. This is especially common with the ones who have reactive attachment issues.
"It basically means that kids who may not have a bond with their own parents have a tendency to develop close relationships with other adults."
He says on the other hand, many teens genuinely develop strong bonds with their teachers and some may be a little infatuated as well.
"I think that all this is just part of growing up, that's all. Usually it will pass as both parties know their limits and where to draw the line.
"There are circumstances where it is the adult that has a problem and not the teen. You can't readily blame the kid in the end. I think if a child has this problem, it is usually not something new. There would have been problems from the time the child was young.
"Often, they are seen as moody, can't form close relationships with their family and have short-lived close relationships with their peers."