Parents say textbooks porn for kids
Updated: 2011-08-22 07:37
Pupils draw images of manliness at a sex education course at Beijing No 2 Experimental Primary School on Aug 17. Hu Xuebai / for China Daily
An illustration from the sex education textbook Growing Steps, which illustrates how a baby comes into being when sperm meets the ovum. Provided to China Daily
BEIJING - The frank description of sexual intercourse in a recently-released sex education textbook for primary school students in the city 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."
This passage taken from the textbook titled Growing Steps appears with illustrations of the intercourse-engaged penis and vagina in the first part of the series for students aged 6 to 7 years old.
"It's too much for children. It's simply porn pictures for kids. It is not healthy," said a mother surnamed Liu, who worries that the material may be too mature for her 8-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 are even banned from our website," Wu said. Guokr.com is designed for adults from 20 to 35.
The wording should be more tender and beautiful in books for children, she said.
In her opinion, early sex education is a field demanding more thought and more ideas so that it is delicate with regard the details but still explains the facts.
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 6 to 12 years old.
"My Body", "Where Am I From?" and "Can You Protect Yourself?" comprise the first phase.
The second features "Body Changes During Adolescence" and "Techniques to Communicate with Parents", as well as "Beauty in Puberty" and "Little Man".
The third contains the material "To Accept Yourself", "AIDS Prevention," as well as "To Be A Healthy Netizen".
The primary school books are set to begin a trial run in 18 schools in the coming semester.
Meanwhile, books for junior middle school students are currently being written by experts and will be tested in 30 schools, said an official with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education.
Although some parents are concerned that the content could be too graphic or mature for 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.cn), is also a father who considers the books appropriate and in need of popularization.
"Adults see dirty things in the books while students may not. They see things in a different way and we should not judge the books from our own 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," said Lu Weihong, one of the books authors.
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 and schools usually try to avoid the subject, leaving the responsibility to parents or society, she said.
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 schools was dropped after strong protests from parents.
New books are being written based on surveys conducted among 453 fourth and fifth grade students in 14 schools in Beijing, she said.
The results show 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 breasts 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 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 of residents, she said.
Zhang said she is more worried about the teachers than the students. She hopes that teachers will not feel too shy about approaching the subject, which might waste the teaching materials.
(China Daily 08/22/2011 page4)