In November 2012, over 100 preschoolers in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan Province, were "married" in a mock group wedding organized by their kindergarten. Little boys wearing suits and girls in gowns exchanged "wedding" vows in the presence of their parents.
While it is not the first time the kindergarten has held such an event, it was certainly the biggest of its kind to date. The activity is hoped to give kids a healthy concept of marriage and the ability to develop a stronger social responsibility as well as a better relationship with others.
However, the group "wedding" has triggered heated debate. While a minority has shown support for the initiative, most think it's too early to educate preschoolers on marriage and sex in terms of natural psychological development.
Hou Jing (www.xinhuanet.com): Three to 6 years old is a period when children feel sensitive to love and marriage. Thus, proper parent and teacher guidance is very important. Through role playing, this kind of group "wedding" will help youngsters go though this period smoothly.
Wang Jikai (www.cqnews.net): The kindergarten is brave to hold such a mock wedding. Through this activity, we find that children grow to be more mature compared to those graduated from other kindergartens. The "wedding" will satisfy their curiosity and help develop education.
Children have the chance to understand the idea behind marriage and obtain a sense of responsibility toward love and society. More importantly, the activity makes it clear that attraction to the opposite sex is natural and nothing to be ashamed about.
More should be done to help kids deal with growing up amid the pressures of sex and relationships. Parents, kindergartens and society have the responsibility to create a better environment.
Qian Wen (Xinmin Evening News): It might be that adults want to strengthen social responsibility among children, but they failed to look at the issue from a kid's perspective. Sometimes, imitating grown ups, children say "I like you" or "I love you." It usually means nothing more than an expression of friendship or appreciation.
Kids have their own psychology when it comes to proper sex education. Boys need to learn how to be brave and responsible as well as how to control their own emotions, while girls can be taught how to be careful and communicate with others.
Zheng Yi (www.people.com.cn): The kindergarten claims that this is effective development education, which helps to explain sensitive topics through games. It sounds great, but is this the only way to throw light on the relationship between men and women? Organizing a mock wedding is taking things too far.
We believe there is an appropriate age for everything. Everyone has a natural road to walk toward maturity. Curiosity and bewilderment regarding love, marriage and sex need to be dealt with in the right way and at the right opportunity to maintain the order of nature. You can't expect kids to grow up overnight.
It's a pity that many parents and teachers tend to choose the shortcut of educating children in the ways of adults too soon. Whatever the reason, it's really a pity to see the loss of pure childish nature. Why don't we just let kids be kids?
Gao Zhiqiang (www.cqnews.net): This kind of kid weddings are really ridiculous. I think the kindergarten only wants to raise its own reputation by organizing such a spectacle. It argues that, through such mock weddings, children have developed a stronger sense of responsibility, more self-confidence and an increased passion to communicate with others.
In retrospect, during my own childhood, kids had close contact with nature where they played together. This pure and happy picture has been deeply carved into many hearts. Via games, we developed physique, friendship and the sense of collective cooperation.
Indeed, times have changed. However, there is no sense in involving children with adult matters such as love, marriage and giving birth. If the kindergarten really wants to help them develop healthy attitudes, there are many better methods compared to mock weddings.
What if children take the game seriously, and only remember their "little family" and "sweethearts?" They need to be brought up in a pure environment free of the pollution of adult affairs. Weddings are for grown-ups. Please do not impose their ideas on kids.
Xia Huiping (www.voc.com.cn): What do you expect children to learn from a mock group wedding game?
Marriage means commitment to your loved ones and family, alongside tolerance and maturity. However, a mere mock event is incapable of effectively delivering such ideas to kids. Worse still, since "wedding" is taken as a game here, some children might misunderstand marriage in the same terms, which can be both harmful and dangerous.
Wu Jianli (www.voc.com.cn): The kindergarten claims that children aged 3 to 6 are sensitive to marriage, and thus offering them proper guidance through mock group weddings will help develop healthy attitudes toward the issue.
In my opinion, opposed to kids being "sensitive" to the topic, adults struggle to clearly educate their children about marriage related affairs. Children seldom disguise their feelings and when they say they like someone, it's very pure and childish, having nothing to do with "love" as adults might think.
To involve kids with adult matters at such a young age can affect their simple and pure childhood. While children do need self-confidence and responsibility, kids remain kids. What they need is simplicity and happiness, not wedding games equated to marriage and sex education. The kindergarten must create a pure atmosphere in which children can grow up.