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Regulation on puppy love sparks controversy
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The first local regulation in China to list puppy love as "misconduct" and suggest parents reprimand and stop it has sparked controversy across the country.

Heated discussions on the regulation has spread across media and websites nationwide, after the Regulation for the Protection of Minors of Heilongjiang Province, the first of its kind to tackle puppy love, was revised and adopted by the local legislature last month.

The controversial regulation will become effective from Oct. 1, says Wu Wenbin, deputy director of the Committee for Internal and Judical Affairs of the local People's Congress.

In discussion on the regulation, some say lawmakers in the northeastern province are overconfident about their attempt to ban puppy love, while others doubt if the regulation's implementation would be practical or not.

"Love for the opposite sex is a natural part of life as one grows up. I believe it is not a bad thing after all," the China Youth Daily quoted one netizen as saying.

"How shall we define puppy love? Is it puppy love when a boy holds the hand of a girl?" another netizen asked on major portal www.163.com.

Wu, in an interview with Xinhua, said the discussion was heated because puppy love attracted huge public attention, but he said some people had an incomplete understanding of the regulation.

"The regulation does not directly ban puppy love. It stresses the responsibility of parents and guardians," he said.

The related article reads "Parents and other guardians should reprimand and educate children who are minors when they are involved in misconduct and unlawful acts including puppy love, illegal cohabitation, drug use and prostitution and should prohibit and rectify such misconduct and unlawful acts."

The section on puppy love was not included in the draft's revision until lawmakers made the suggestion in August, Wu said.

Love lives for teenage children were regarded as absolutely taboo 20 years ago. Teenagers in puppy love, once it was exposed, could be humilated and punished at school and beaten up at home.

However, today's parents are more tolerant while education specialists say children's interest in the opposite sex is an optimistic signal demonstrating that they are growing up healthily.

More enlightened Chinese parents believe teenage love could help them accumulate experience in dealing with the opposite sex, which would benefit future married lives.

Wang Aili, a sociologist with the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said more and more young people were experiencing puppy love as they were better developed physically than previous generations because of improvements in dietary and living standards, which was a fact adults must face.

"Parents have reason to worry about the side effects of puppy love, but the problems can never be resolved by laws and regulations," Wang said.

"Society should provide more physiological, psychological and ethical education for the children," she said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 4, 2009)

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