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Teens in Shenzhen to get sex education
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-23 01:30

Shenzhen plans to teach students more about sex and health education.

New courses will be offered in 24 primary and middle schools after a recent survey showed few students are satisfied with the present level of education in that field.

Different from previous courses, which focused mainly on human body dissection, the new edition of the sex health education textbook includes sensitive issues such as masturbation and spermatorrhea and gives a more detailed introduction to sex for teen students in Shenzhen.

According to the Shenzhen Education Bureau, teachers will be required to obtain a medical health or psychology major to ensure students get the correct information.

Students in primary schools should take no less than five elective courses or lectures per semester, junior students should take six and senior middle schools eight, said the Shenzhen Education Bureau.

The move is aimed at putting sex education on the official teaching agenda in a bid to satisfy the curiosity of young students in the booming city.

A large-scale, two-year survey of nearly 3,000 students and 700 parents in Shenzhen, showed primary students got almost no sex and health education. And 65.5 per cent of junior and 52.1 per cent of senior middle school students barely got any sex education, while 22 per cent junior and 42.5 per cent senior middle school students have never taken relevant courses.

Most of students surveyed said they have a wide range of channels to learn about sex, including magazines, TV programmes or movies, the Internet and other schoolmates.

However, Zhang Yongping, a school doctor and health education teacher in Shenzhen Shiyan School, which is one of the 24 schools involved in the programme, told China Daily, "the sex knowledge from media or websites is not as systemic and complete as that of the textbooks. Correct guidance for people in the age of puberty is crucial for them to better understand sex and prevent them from getting abortions or contracting sexually transmitted diseases."

Zhang's remarks were echoed by Li danming, a local government official. As a father of a 17-year-old boy, he agrees with the early sex education.

"I talked to my son about sex when he was 11 years old. I bought him a Japanese picture book called Speaking of Sex as a birthday gift. After he read it, he never brought up questions like 'how was I brought to the world?' again. His curiosity was already answered."

But some say earlier sex education will give negative guidance to young students, encouraging them to try sexual activities.

Chen Lipeng, director of teaching department of Shenzhen Shiyan School, told China Daily, "some parents are against sex education courses because they think it is better for children not to know about sex at all."

Ren Jiantao, dean of School of Government in Sun Yat-Sen University, pointed out that parents lack knowledge of the rebelling nature of adolescence, contributing to the opposite opinions towards early sex education.

For teen students, the authority of their parents is not comparable with the influence of their peer group.

Also, Ren warned that teaching measures involving pictures or slides of sexual behaviour should be used cautiously.

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