A political adviser in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, has suggested high schools add courses on love to their curricula, to help nurture healthier romantic relationships among young people.
"Most parents are uncomfortable talking about romantic love with their children, while society hasn't paid enough attention to it either," said Hou Xiaodong, an official of a chamber of commerce in the city's Gulou district.
"High school students are struggling through puberty, so schools have to shoulder this task."
Hou made the remarks during the annual five-day session of the Nanjing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the city's top advisory body, which wrapped up late last month.
He said he was prompted to make the proposal by a high school student who insisted he would not date girls from less well-off families.
"What's wrong with our kids? Are they not getting enough education on love and relationships at school?" he asked.
An observer of the education sector for over a decade, Hou noted the core of a proper relationship should be recognition of the spiritual virtues of one's partner, rather than being money-oriented.
He said there are some textbooks on young love, but they are far too rigid. He suggested teachers relate theories to real-life situations so that students have a better understanding.
Chu Zhaohui, a researcher at National Institute of Education Sciences, agreed with setting up such courses, but said only until students are in senior high school. "If you talk about love to junior high school kids, that would be a burden to them psychologically. They are just too young."
Yang Jingping, a teacher at Nanjing No 5 Senior High School, said although there are currently no tailored courses on love, the theme is touched upon in multiples subjects, such as in Chinese literature and group discussions on psychology.
Some students, however, disagree with the idea of teaching about love. "I don't see a need to introduce such courses," said a 12th-grader at Nanjing Foreign Language School. "Senior high school students are mature beyond their years. We discuss love sometimes. It might be better suited to students in seventh and eighth grade."
Chu dismissed such sentiments and said children from 4-5 years old on tend to regard themselves as capable of handling everything. "There is a disparity between their subjective competence and actual inexperience."
Some parents are not convinced about courses on love either. "Our kids are far too busy with their studies. How would they ever have time to think about love?" said the mother of an eighth-grade student.
Another parent of a 10th-grader added, "Love is part of human nature. Children can learn about it themselves. This seems like making a big fuss to me."
In China, some high schools have banned students from engaging in relationships and penalties range from demerits to even expulsion. Hou Xiaodong disagreed with such regulations: "It's not that when you ban it, it won't exist. When it's still there, what you should do is to guide it."
Chu also disapproved of such a ban, saying it is only for the convenience of school management. "When a seed is sprouting, you can't stifle it but have to guide its way."
Several Chinese universities have brought courses on love into the curricula. In 2013, a course on love and marriage became an instant hit at Wuhan Polytechnic University.