China Bans Teenage Romance

Ah, school. The hormones, the drama, the young love ... But not in China!

Recently, a few Chinese middle and high schools have gone to great lengths to discourage romance in the student body. They want to nip young love in the bud.

According to the BBC, a school in Hangzhou has decreed that boys and girls should maintain a minimum distance of half a meter (about one and half foot) from each other at all times. Boys and girls are also not allowed to walk in pairs. Another school has banned "close interaction" - whatever that means, since the school didn't define it - and threatened students with "severe" discliplinary action for violating the ban.

The Chinese regard teenage romance as something undesirable, calling it Zao Lian, which literally means "early love" but in essence it denotes immature love.

Schools and education authorities are increasingly bombarding young people with information on the "undesirable effects" of Zao Lian.

There are entire websites dedicated to the issue of how to avoid the lure of the opposite sex and focus attention on study. Schools in China also run sex education courses.

Both teachers and parents believe that young people in schools must not deviate from learning and must concentrate on studies to lay a good foundation for building a future.

Well, China didn't get to be 1.35 billion people without a little love, so the reaction to the schools' ban on young love has been swift and brutal. Some are outraged whereas others poked fun at the ban on China's social media and blogs. They've also pointed out that the banning teenage romance is probably futile anyhow.

But the central question remains: Should school try to discourage romance in its student body?

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