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A middle school in East China has issued a controversial list of rules aimed at preventing puppy love among its students.
In a recent notice, Yueqing Yucai School banned youngsters of the opposite sex from talking alone in secluded areas, such as in dark corners or under trees, and from giving each other expensive gifts.
Holding hands, hugging and kissing are strictly forbidden, while boys and girls are not even allowed to walk side by side on the playground.
"We hope all of our students can stay rational and restrained when it comes to adolescent love so that they can be entirely devoted to their studies," the notice read.
It warned that falling in love at an early age disrupts academic study, can cause physiological and psychological harm, and produces no result.
Any student found breaking the rules will be punished and their parents will be informed.
"Puppy love is more prevalent these days and it's hard to deal with," Li Chunlian, director of the school's general office, told China Daily. "We hope these rules will prevent students from being engaging in it too early."
Most parents with children at the school are in support of the new rules, according to Li, who added that many had been calling for measures to prevent adolescent romances.
"We also asked students for suggestions before devising the rules," she said. "Some said they began their relationship after strolling with a classmate on the playground, so that's why we added it into the rules."
Zhang Wu, a teacher at the school, said the faculty is "clearly aware of the difficulty in banning students from finding love at school", but hopes that the rules "can serve as a deterrent, so things don't get out of control".
He added that students sometimes fight over the same boy or girl, which can seriously disrupt order at the school.
The move has won many fans, including a blogger named Ma Wenbo who wrote: "As a parent, I firmly support the school's decision and hope others will learn from it. If a student is engaged in romance too early, it will ruin his or her academic study."
The school, which is in Yueqing city, has also received harsh criticism from both parents and students around the country.
"To issue such rules based on the grounds that puppy love can affect someone's studies is ludicrous," said Mo Ding, a student at the middle school affiliated to Beijing University of Chemical Technology. "I know some couples, but they work really hard (in class) and actually encourage each other."
Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, a non-governmental policy research group, said schools should guide students' behavior, instead of simply trying to pose restrictions on their activities.
"I'm not surprised to hear the news at all," he said. "Many educators believe academic study is the sole aim of education, so such rules are not uncommon.
"What they (educators) fail to understand is that integrity of character and a healthy psychology are far more important for the education of a child."
Despite the controversy, Li at Yueqing Yucai School said the move is "well intentioned".
"We're aware of the many different voices, and in fact we're not even sure what effect the rules will have," she conceded. "However, all we have done is try to help our students."
Last year, a middle school in Baoding, Hebei province, issued similar rules.
Students of the opposite sex were ordered to keep at least 60 centimeters from each other while talking on campus, except during classes and school gatherings, and were allowed to meet only in bright, public places, according to local media reports.