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Sex education: A safe approach rather than one to keep virgin
Updated: 2004-03-25 10:51

A recent book "Roses Concealed in a School Bag" portraying 13 high school students brave enough to have sex but lacking information and intimidated to share their stories has raised questions about China's sex education.

"Roses Concealed in the School Bag" was written by a youth researcher and a youth media professional based on a survey of 13 Chinese students born between 1980 and 1984 who had sex in high school and has thrown harsh questions and challenges on sex education.

The survey result refuted Chinese people's stereotype of identifying those who date in high school and have sex as "playboys" and "school laggers".

It showed that half of the 13 students had excellent academic performance and one third came from prestigious high schools.

However, it also showed that none of them used any protection for their first night.

Though all the 13 asserted that their first night was "out of love and willingness", they admitted that they were so "nervous and awkward" that they hardly had any fun doing it.

The book showed that "all of them are desperately dissatisfied with the sex education from families and schools and worst of all, none of their parents have realized the fact till now".

Questions were raised by education experts on the publishing of the book, amid massive sex education campaigns reportedly launched across the country in recent years.

"What is really going on in sex education?" asked experts, followed by such thought-provoking questiones as "What is the purpose of Chinese education on sex? To ensure safety or to promote the idea of keeping a virgin? To satisfy the curiosity of youngsters with their developing sexual maturity or just to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases?"

Openly disseminating sexual knowledge used to be taboo in China, but as the country becomes more open to the world, compulsory courses opened in some Beijing high schools and condom vending machines appeared in some colleges.

But was that enough? Could the juveniles properly handle themselves and the consequences when choosing to have sex?

In a report in China Youth Daily, Zhang Yinmo, one of the co-writers of the book and also a female editor with eight years experience in youth magazines, told a true story not included in the book.

A high school girl had an abortion after falling pregnant, without telling her parents. She went to school the day after the operation, and ran a 1,000-meter-race test in her PE class five days later.

Before she finished it, she passed out and was left with a severe gynecological disease.

She happened to go to a medical college later and after one class on gynecology, she burst into tears, feeling heartbroken for her ignorance back then and worrying if she could have babies again.

"My heart is bleeding after reading," said China's famous female writer Bi Shumin after reading through the book. "I felt so sorry for the boys and girls."

Statistics showed that Chinese juveniles enter sexual maturity at 12 or 13, but get married at 20 to 26.

The period in-between, for about 10 years, or even longer, highlight the importance to promote the sex education.

Youngsters cried out in the book that they have the right to be aware.

"It is like when you are hungry, you need to eat. With my developing sexual maturity, I need sex," said Sun Bin, a high school student.

Sun Yunxiao, another writer of the book and vice director of the China Youth Research Institute, said he originally planned to write the survey result into a book report and hopefully exert influence on the decision-making educational officials, but "as we went on with the survey, we felt the result should go public and the whole society should move to deal with the pressing issue."

"The purpose of solely promoting the idea of keeping a virgin and preventing sex from happening is outdated now with great changes in people's way of thinking."

Chen Huichang, a psychology professor with Beijing Normal University, held that parents and the school should be responsibleto tell the youngsters everything, not just knowledge about their developing sexual maturity, but possible influence of having sex that they may not be able to foresee at an early age.

"Then it is up to them to decide."

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