School pupils in Hong Kong are starting relationships with the opposite sex at a younger age, sometimes even before they reach teenhood, a survey has shown.
According to a study conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG), nearly a quarter of Primary five and six students said they have had a relationship.
About 15 percent of the respondents claimed they had their first love before the age of 12, the federation said, citing the results of a survey conducted among local school students.
Of those who said they have had a relationship, 40 percent of them said they had one “lover”, while 20 percent said they had two, while 30 percent of them said they have had three or more partners.
For the survey, which was aimed at understanding young people’s attitude towards love and relationships, HKFYG interviewed 7,059 primary five and six students in April and May via a questionnaire, Ming Pao Daily News reports.
When asked how much time they would spend to understand their counterparts before commencing a relationship, 31.5 percent of the respondents said one to three months would be enough, while 23.8 percent indicated a time period of four to six months.
As to the criteria on choosing a romantic partner, 50.8 percent said they would pick someone who understands them and is willing to communicate, while 40 percent said the main criterion would be how much the partners care about them.
Nearly 60 percent of the students surveyed said their parents are of the view that relationships would have an impact on their academic performance.
The HKFYG, a service organization for young people, noted that primary school students might not have a clear definition when it comes to “relationship”.
A person could consider someone a partner just because the two persons have meals or travel together, the group said.
Young people, in many cases, do not know how to appropriately deal with a member of the opposite sex.
Hsu Siu-man, counseling services supervisor at the HKFYG, said survey results however suggest that students nowadays are starting relationships at a younger age.
There was a case where a female student slept over at the home of a boy from another school after becoming acquainted with him just a few days earlier.
Hsu found fault with schools’ education programs on love, saying students were being enlightened about the physical aspects of puberty while aspects such as the value of love and dating are seldom mentioned.
The youth group supervisor urged parents to engage in meaningful dialogue with their kids and offer guidance on relationships.
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