Sex education needs to be improved

Updated: 2012-09-06 05:55

By Victor Fung Keung(HK Edition)

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We cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore. It's time we provided better sex education to both pre-teens and teenagers in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

About one-third of Hong Kong's troubled teenagers aged between 10 and 15 believe that sex and dating come in a package, according to a survey in August 2012 conducted by the Federation of Youth Groups. One-fifth of respondents admitted they had sexual experiences.

The situation on the mainland is none the better. About 30 percent of young people born after the 1990s said their first "puppy love" happened in primary or junior high school, according to a survey done by a dating website Baihe in June 2012. The shocking revelation is that many teenagers under 16 borrowed identity cards from older kids so that they can go to "hotels" to have sex. Most hotel staff turn a blind eye anyway, because business is business.

Sex invariably leads to the teen-pregnancy problem. In Hong Kong, we have about 800 such cases every year, and most cases end in abortions, from which the physical and mental shocks brought to bear on the girls were handily ignored. And it is sad to read from newspaper reports that every year about half a dozen newly-born babies are abandoned in dark allies or filthy dumps.

Sex education needs to be improved

The mainland's National Working Committee on Children and Women reported that 22.4 percent of those aged between 15 and 24 have had premarital sex; and 21.3 percent of those sexually active girls have become pregnant; and 91 percent of these pregnancies ended in abortions.

Hong Kong and mainland teenagers share a lot in common. They mature earlier than the older generation because of better diet, nutrition and living environments. Girls on the mainland have their first menstruation at 11, compared to 14 a few years ago.

Another common problem is that parents in Hong Kong and the mainland don't know how to talk to their children and educate them about sex. Some even regard the topic as taboo.

It almost becomes a cliche to blame the media and the Internet. Western TV series, such as "Gossip Girl" and "Sex in the City", are very open about having out-of-wedlock sex. One of my favorite TV series titled "Without a trace" tells of a woman detective having extra-marital sexual relationships with two of her co-workers. And of course, pornographic videos and movies available free on the Internet are only a click away. Such videos and movies emphasize the joys of sex, rather than sex as part of a serious and fruitful life and relationship.

Most schools in Hong Kong aren't doing a good job, I am afraid. They teach children how to use a condom. More importantly, they should teach the teenagers about building companionships, relationships, trust and showing care, love and respect for the opposite sex. Simply put, dating is more than having sex in a "love hotel". This misconception must be uprooted from teenagers' minds.

The Hong Kong government provides funds to have high-school kids test for drugs, such as ketamine and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). In the same vein, perhaps it can allocate more resources to sex education in schools. A comprehensive sex education is more than just teaching kids their different body parts and organs. Sex and relationships and health hazards (including HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases) brought about by having unsafe sex should also be emphasized. Non-governmental-organizations should also receive more funding from the government to run seminars on sex education and provide counseling for teenagers.

After all, the buck stops at home. Parents, who themselves must receive sex education first, should talk openly with their children about sex and pregnancy. They should overcome the feeling of uneasiness and embarrassment, because such intimate chats might help change their kids' lives forever. Their impact can't be underestimated.

We should act and show our children that we love them and care for them. Let's do it. Now!

The author is coordinator of the B.S.Sc in financial journalism program at Hong Kong Baptist University.

(HK Edition 09/06/2012 page3)