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Healthy relationships should be taught in schools: expert

chinadaily.com.cn

Courses on marriage and relationships should be available in primary and middle schools in China, said a sociologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Li Yinhe, 61, is a leading sociologist on sexual issues and a vocal activist for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender rights in China.

She told Beijing Morning Post in an interview that more schools should teach students about marriage and relationships.

Li said such courses are needed to prepare young people for romantic relationships and guide their behavior, because adolescents do not have a good understanding of love, marriage and family and they need to learn.

Universities may be the first educational institutions to offer courses on love and marriage. But students attending primary and middle schools also ought to receive such education. They will know how to deal with break-ups and avoid extreme reactions, Li said.

The news media has reported on many tragic incidents of love gone wrong, involving people committing suicide or self-harming after a bad relationship. These incidences occur because people never learned how to cope with difficult situations, Li said.

Schools should not only be a place where students learn about math and physics. Schools should offer students real-life lessons, about how to love, how to develop a good character and inspire students to purse true happiness in life, Li said.

Although Chinese society has become more open-minded and access to these topics has become more readily available, it remains difficult to add courses about marriage and relationships into schools' curriculum. Sex education has made more headway as the Ministry of Education has introduced measures to promote sex education at schools, but their implementation and the effectiveness are still hard to guarantee, Li said.

Wuhan Polytechnic, a college in Wuhan, Hubei province, became the first school in China to offer a course about love and marriage, when the optional course began its first session on March 15.

Zou Fengmei, a psychological counselor at the college, teaches the course and designs them to cover topics such as love, sex, marriage, conflict, violence, relationship break down and divorce.

The course' popularity surprised Zou. Nearly 1,000 students applied for the 80 opening in the class. Several young couples also attended her first class on Friday, Chutian Metropolis Daily, a newspaper in Wuhan, reported on Sunday.

"Relationships and marriage require learning and maintenance," Zou said, adding that she started the course to help students become involved in healthy and responsible relationships.