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Sex and health survey on campus gets cold shoulder
Updated: 2005-04-07 14:41

A survey on the reproductive health of Shanghai students launched last July is being obstructed by university authorities, some of whom object to the idea that their undergraduates might think "too much" about sex.

Love at a young age is not a rare phenomena in China nowadays. [China Daily/file]
"At least seven prestigious universities have rejected the survey." said a researcher from the Shanghai Andrology Institute, "Some said it was because it would involve disclosing private information, some asked for payment, and some even said the survey would disturb students' minds, making them indulge in sexual fantasy."

The survey, sponsored by the Shanghai Municipal Committee of Population and Family Planning, aims to get accurate information on students' sexual health, behaviors and levels of awareness to better inform education initiatives.

So far, less than half the planned work has been completed.

The questionnaire is anonymous and designed to gauge knowledge of issues such as reproduction and sexually transmitted infections as well as students' sexual behavior, the institute's Dr. Chen Bin told the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post.

Chen said some universities refused to distribute the questionnaires among students after seeing phrases like "premarital sex" and "contraception."

To provide useful data, the researchers need to retrieve 5,000-6,000 questionnaires: 500 from each large university and 300 each from smaller institutions.

There needs to be a good gender balance, and respondents have to come from all majors and years of study.

Only 2,000 have been returned so far from four universities, though this has been with an even gender split and has covered all grades.

The survey includes frank questions on the rhythm method of contraception, how to calculate the safety period of the menstrual cycle, masturbation and content of sexual fantasies, perceptions of classmates' sexual activeness and awareness of methods of protected sex.

"Problems uncovered so far are rather serious," said Chen, since many students' main source of information was pornography rather than balanced and realistic sources, and their knowledge of basic sexual health was generally poor.

The researcher said that some had never heard of the rhythm method and "ninety percent hoped their universities would run elective courses on sexual health."

Chen called for universities in Shanghai to give their support to the survey as soon as possible so that it may provide the data needed to inform work that would help improve students' sexual health.

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