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Minors have difficulty making friends

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Over sixty percent of surveyed teenagers from grades 5 to 8 have acknowledged difficulties in making friends, said the Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF, 兒童福利聯盟) yesterday.

In a nation-wide survey conducted by the CWLF on the social troubles of children and teenagers aged 11 to 14, many of the surveyed had issues as they “did not know how to make friends,” “did not have any friends,” or “regard cyber acquaintances as friends.”

The CWLF also pointed out that roughly a quarter of the surveyed children and teenagers stated via the surveys that they have had a boyfriend or girlfriend before.

Carried out in June, there were 2810 students surveyed in total.

According to the foundation, 60.3 percent of surveyed children and adolescents reported experiences of encountering social issues. In the said 60 percent, around 40 percent stated that their main worry was not knowing what to do after getting into fights with friends,” while another 30 percent “could not muster enough courage to reveal their honest opinions to friends,” and 15.7 percent “not knowing how to make friends.”

As the majority of teenagers own smart phones, around 45 percent stated that they felt more at ease when communicating with peers through social networking applications such as Line and Facebook as opposed to talking in person; 26.3 percent felt that they enjoyed spending time with cyber friends more than friends in school.

The number of children making friends over the internet has been going up each year; parents should take notice of their children's social acquaintances and encourage them to step out of their lives “within the screen” and build actual, stable friendships, said foundation CEO Chen Li-run (陳麗如). “We all know what often happens with children making friends via the internet.”

Children Watch Too Many Sitcoms: CWLF

The survey also showed nearly 30 percent of children and teenagers having learned their understanding of romantic relationships and sex education through local situation comedies and soap operas, and another 20 percent through Japanese or Korean sitcoms. Further surveys revealed that those who were familiar with the TV serials were more inclined to yearn to be in a relationship, and were also more open about engaging in intimate actions with each other. Another 16 percent even stated that they were willing to do anything to appease their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Among those who admitted to have been in romantic relationships in the past, over 60 percent agreed that hugging is acceptable while 40 percent are open to kissing; 5.2 percent are open to sexual intercourse. Nearly 60 percent of the said relationships did not last over six months, but teenagers usually confide in their friends instead of teachers and parents.

Chen encourages teachers and parents to adopt open attitudes toward the social problems of their children and students, and added that schools should implement fully-developed sex education courses in helping students establish correct understanding about romantic relationships.

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