Handsome boys and pretty girls regularly fall in love, hang out at bars and clubs and swindle money from their families. Some even get married once they hit the age of 18.
Such are the adventures of the young people who populate the stories of many magazines popular with middle school students in Beijing. And some parents are not happy about it.
The Beijing Morning Post recently printed a story about an anxious mother who had called up the newspaper to complain about how popular love story magazines had become among students.
The mother said these magazines regularly featured stories about handsome boys and pretty girls from rich families living luxurious and romantic lives, their days dominated by play and fun.
The girls talk dirty and even fight, while the boys visit bars and dance halls. Their classmates are suspicious and envious, and betrayals in matters of love are common.
The last straw for the anguished mother was that the magazines also feature pictures of intimate physical contact, which the mother considered "too much for middle school students".
Of course, few students have had problems with the magazines, according to a salesperson at one newsstand in Beijing. "They sell well and are often on the best-seller list," said the salesperson.
According to Yang Shu, a grade-one student at the middle school affiliated with Peking University, the magazines are popular because they present situations that are much different from those experienced by most middle school students.
"Compared with our lives of endless homework and discipline from both our families and schools, the boys and girls in the stories are just so free and live carefree and funny lives," said Yang, a devoted fan of love magazines.
But Yang added that she was not interested in living the kind of life described in the stories, stressing that "a story is just a story, and they are only meant to spice up the lives of bored students".
Zhang Yongqi, the principle of Beijing's No 12 high school, said parents and schools should be less nervous about their children's adolescent emotional needs.
Zhang said parents should instead guide their children's interests towards reading in formal reading environments, such as libraries. "Just a little more care can make a big difference," said Zhang.
(China Daily 01/09/2007 page5)