Parents worried about porn content in sex education book
Updated: 2011-08-19 19:53
BEIJING - The direct description of sexual intercourse in China's first sex education textbook for primary school students in Beijing has triggered a wave of parental concern.
"To let sperm find the ovum as soon as possible, dad inserts his penis into mom's vagina at full tilt and the sperm enters mom's vagina."
The controversial passage taken from the textbook titled "Growing Steps" appears with illustrations of the intercourse-engaged penis and vagina in the first part for students aged six to seven years old.
"It's too much for children. Is that simply porn pictures for kids? It is not healthy," said a mother surnamed Liu, who worries that the material be too mature for her eight-year-old.
Liu's concerns are echoed by many parents in a country that has never before offered sex education to primary school students, said 33-year-old mother Wu Ou, deputy chief editor of China's popular science website Guokr.com.
"It's not wrong to describe sex in direct ways, but the sentences in the book are too rude, and it's even banned from our website," Wu said, Guokr.com is designed for adults from 20 to 35.
The wording should be more tender and more beautiful in the books for children, she said.
In her opinion, early sex education is a field demanding more design and more ideas, which should be delicate in details with vivid words and clear pictures.
The textbook written for primary school students by experts at the Beijing Sex Health Education Research Association are divided into three phases for pupils from six to twelve years old.
The first phase includes "My Body," "Where Am I From," and "Can You Protect Yourself?"
The second phase features "Body Changes During Adolescence" and "Techniques to Communicate with Parents."
The third part contains the chapters "To Please Yourself," "AIDS Prevention," as well as "To Be A Healthy Netizen."
The trial run for the primary school books is set to begin in 18 schools in the coming semester.
Books for junior middle school students are being currently written by experts and will be tested in 30 schools, said an official in Beijing Municipal Commission of Education.
Although some parents are concerned that the content could be too graphic or mature for their young children, others are voicing their support.
Feng Zhihua, the deputy editor of one of China's most popular biological and medical websites Dingxiangyuan (dxy.com), is also a father who considers the book appropriate and in need of popularization.
"Adults see dirty things in the book while students may not. They see things in a different way and we should not judge from our perspectives. The words 'penis' and 'vagina' will come to the students sooner or later. There is no need to avoid them in education," Feng told Xinhua.
"The children's world is pure and cannot be judged through adult eyes," Lu Weihong, one of the books authors, said.
In China, sex education often faces resistance, especially from the older generation of parents who used to tell their children that babies were picked up in streets or jumped out from rocks, Lu said.
China's sex education is considered conservative, especially in schools which had been avoiding the subject and, instead, leaving the topic to be taught by parents or society, she said.
Students got even more confused after reading past teaching materials, she added.
Before this series was introduced, explanations on sex only appeared in books for junior middle school students and some teachers tried to skip the matter entirely in class.
In 2002, an experimental sex education curriculum launched by the Beijing Sex Health Education Research Association for junior middle school was dropped after strong protests from parents.
New books are being written based surveys conducted among 453 fourth and fifth grade students in 14 schools in Beijing, she said.
The results showed that less than 20 percent of students acquired knowledge of sex in school.
Only 5 percent of the students surveyed could properly identify sexual organs, while another 16 percent did not know these organs at all.
More than 14 percent said they would not know how to handle sexual violations and another 4 percent said they felt "indifferent" to violation.
"The statistics reveal the weakness of sex education in China's schools," said Zhang Meimei, director of the Sex Education Research Center of Beijing's Capital Normal University.
Sex education has been absent in primary and middle schools and children know little about their sexually maturing bodies, causing many psychological problems during adolescence, Zhang said.
"Some girls even thought the development of their bubbies was breast cancer," Zhang said.
The new books combine the essence of foreign sex education as well as Chinese traditional culture and future-oriented perspectives. They are expected to offer sex knowledge, values and guidance to students, teachers and parents, she said.
She added that many foreign countries have had plenty of experience in sex education.
Education authorities in the city of New York announced that they will launch sex education courses for 11-year-old students in the upcoming spring semester. These courses will include advice on the proper age for sexual activity as well as how to correctly use a condom and resist unpleasant sexual activity.
Although this program also triggered debate, it gained the support of the majority, she said.
Zhang said she is more worried about the teachers than the students. She hopes the teachers won't feel too shy approaching the subject, which could waste the teaching materials.