Controversial control efforts stand to restrict young love among Chinese students. A new policy, which will be enforced by a number of Chinese secondary schools, mandate that boys and girls maintain a distance of half a meter (1.64 ft.) from each other at all times. Although the regulations have been met with excoriating criticism from both students and media outlets, school officials are confident that their decision will ultimately limit the deleterious effects of “immature love.”
Speaking to BBC News, officials said that the stringent restrictions come in response to growing concerns over teenage romance on campuses. Parents as well as school authorities worry that personal relationships among young, lovesick students will inevitably come to the detriment of academic performance. Hangzhou, Wenzhou, and a number of other Chinese cities are now promising “severe disciplinary action” to anyone who submits to their hormones.
Unsurprisingly, the ban on young love has been lambasted by social media and domestic news organizations, with opponents calling it “barbaric and oppressive.” Some pointed to the absurdity of enforcing a formal proximity limit. Others decried the measure as needlessly harsh and extreme.
"It is normal for young people to fall in love,” said the state-run newspaper China Youth Daily. “Teenage romance in schools must be discouraged, but it is not advisable to use extreme and oppressive methods to do that."
Zhang Yuling, a professor at Nanjing University specializing in education, said that the nation’s changing norms and values will most likely affect compliance with the new rules. While schools should exercise more control over their students, treating them like prisoners is probably not the right answer, he said.
"Thirty or 40 years ago before China embarked on reforms and opened up to the outside world, people were pure and innocent as far as sex was concerned," he said. "But today's young people are exposed to more information and contents than any previous generations.”
In China, teenage romances are often referred to as Zao Lian, or “immature love.” Chinese students are reportedly inundated with information listing the “undesirable effects” such relationships can have on their personal life and academic work. In addition, schools are running sex education courses in an attempt to limit the allure of the opposite sex.