Love is such a complex thing that it’s difficult to say exactly what it means.
It can change us without warning and make us do crazy things. And people endlessly argue whether love takes us to paradise or to hell.
Some of us do illegal things, or even commit suicide, because of love. Young people going through the education system sometimes get into arguments and fight one another in public for love.
Reaksmey, an 18-year-old student, says he used to get into fights with other guys to show how strong and brave he was.
“I wanted to show other men that a woman belonged to me and was already loved,” he says, adding: “I got respect from people, because they didn’t dare to complain to me or about me.”
Love turns some people blind, to the extent that they break the law and society’s rules. Sometimes they employ unusual weapons against their love rivals.
Phan Sophea, 20, a student, carries scars from the love battlefield after coming into conflict with gangsters.
“I’m afraid to go out alone because I’m scared that I will meet them accidentally,” he says.
Phan Sophea says the unlucky encounter occurred while he was riding his motorbike with a friend. “My friend and I were bashed by gangsters we had fought with before.”
Some young women get involved in love fights at school or in public places. Whether honour is as worthy as love is a controversial question.
“When I studied in high school, I did fight with other girls who tried to flirt with my boyfriend and kept calling him,” Sovannara, a 23-year-old student, says.
Rany, 21, says another woman wanted to fight her because of a misunderstanding.
“That woman thought I was having a secret relationship with her boyfriend.
But actually, her boyfriend was trying to woo me,” Rany says.
“I was so embarrassed. I stopped studying English part-time because everyone kept gossiping about me whenever they saw me.”
Parents often don’t know about the love lives of their children, because some of them think their kids go to school purely to study. That may be a wrong – or even dangerous – presumption.
Pech Sovandeoun, 45, a businessman, says his work keeps him so busy that he doesn’t have time to supervise his children’s studies.
“I do trust my children, and I don’t believe they would do anything against my wishes and expectations, even though I don’t scrutinise their studies,” he says.
Ideally, parents shouldn’t depend totally on teachers to educate their children.
Housewife Chheang Sreypich, 40, says she often asks her daughter about her studies.
“It’s not impossible that kids fight with others because of love, but I have noticed that my daughter doesn’t have boyfriends,” Chheang Sreypich says.
“I will punish her if she dares to do anything crazy like that.”
Thav Nimol, a teacher at the Dongkor Secondary School, says some of his students have quit school because they got into arguments with other students, but this happens rarely.
“The students at my school aren’t gangsters like some of the students in the capital city,” Thav Nimol says.
“Students who play truant should have given study a higher priority.
“And parents should pay more attention to their kids’ studies – so please don’t spend all your time on work and business.”
Thav Nimol says teachers spend only a few hours each day with students, so they can’t keep track of all their activities.
“The most important and influential people who can help students stay on the right track are their parents,” he says.