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From 'puppy love' to 'premarital pregnancy'
( 2003-11-03 09:31) (people.com)

Chinese parents nowadays have a more tolerant attitude toward their teenage children's love lives, regarded as an absolute taboo for Chinese parents back 20 years ago.

Nowadays, China's education specialists are trying to persuade teenagers' parents that their children's interest in the opposite sex is an optimistic signal demonstrating that they are growing up healthily.

Some more enlightened Chinese parents believe that teenagers' love could help them accumulate experience of dealing with the opposite sex, which will benefit their future marriage lives.

In Chinese society today, the focus of concern has shifted from puppy love to premarital pregnancy, a far more thorny issue.

The hospital affiliated to the Family Planning Commission of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality recently offered statistics showing that 13 percent of the hospital's abortion cases were for teenagers in 1998, while the figure has risen to 33.6 percent now.

"Sex education among Chinese middle school students is urgently needed," said Sun Yunxiao, research fellow with the China Teenager Development Research Center.

Liu Yongfeng, a senior official with China Family Planning Association said sex awareness is a basic demand for teenagers. In the past, teachers and parents often ignored this and were too shy to give proper sex education to teenagers.

Min Lefu, an expert with the Beijing Education and Science Institute said the phenomenon of teenagers' physical maturity preceding their emotional maturity makes them more exposed to dangers.

The latest Chinese Census shows that there are 327 million people aged between 10 to 24 on the Chinese mainland, making up 26 percent of its total population. The average age for Chinese teenagers reaching puberty is 12-13. Therefore, China has 20 million teenagers reaching physical sexual maturity every year.

The latest survey by the China Teenage Development and Research Center shows that about one-third of interviewed Chinese middle school students have never received any sex education, and most of those who received sex education courses in school were dissatisfied with the quality of the courses.

Meanwhile, most surveyed students who had engaged in sexual behavior confessed that they were not familiar with contraception.

A sample survey in Jiangsu Province, and Shanghai Municipality, one of China's most economically-developed regions, shows that only 15 percent of surveyed high school students had received any sex education from their teachers or parents.

In April 2002, a textbook on sex was for the first time officially published on the Chinese mainland. However, after more than a year, the textbook is still not used, because schools which had previously agreed to use the book on a trial basis do not want to provide sexual education courses.

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