Internet 'meetings' linked to pregnancy in Shanghai

By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-10 06:48

SHANGHAI: Nearly half of the pregnant teens in Shanghai were impregnated by boys they met on the Internet, a local doctor has said.

Zhang Zhengrong, a doctor at No 411 Hospital who oversees the city's first-aid hotline for pregnant teens, said 46 percent of the more than 20,000 teenage girls who called the hotline over the past two years said they had had sex with boys they met on the Internet.

And most of the fathers disappeared after learning about the pregnancy, and some of the mothers did not even know the fathers' names.

Zhang blamed the situation on adult websites, videos and books and appealed to parents, teachers and society at large to pay more attention to sex education.

Zhang said most of the girls the center dealt with did not understand sex and considered abortions to be harmless. She said about 10 percent of them had had as many as three abortions.

"There were some who were unaware they were even pregnant until very late," she said.

One teenager who visited a hospital because of stomach pains was surprised to discover that she was more than five months pregnant. She had an induced labor, Zhang said.

The doctor said the hotline had been receiving more calls since the summer break started. It received 285 calls in the first week of this month, a 12 percent increase over the same period in the preceding month.

Zhang said many teens got their information about sex from the Internet rather than from school or parents.

A survey by Zhang's hospital found that only 7.9 percent of the parents queried talked to their children about sex, and 79 percent high school and university students said they got their ideas about sex from the Internet.

The survey involved 2,043 parents, 2,680 teachers and 1,577 teenagers.

Forty-six percent of the students said schools did not provide enough sex education and 15 percent said schools should tell them about birth control.

A quarter of the teachers said schools should teach students about birth control.

Sixty-six percent of the teachers said parents, teachers and society at large all have roles to play in teaching students about sex.

Meanwhile, 46 percent of the parents said it was up to schools to teach their kids about sex, while 11 percent blamed "society" for causing early pregnancies.

(China Daily 07/10/2007 page5)

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