Latest News:  


Hands-off sex education

(Global Times)

09:19, May 27, 2013

Chen Xuan teaches sex education once a week in her hour-long health class at a middle school near Dongzhimen. The class isn't mandatory and has no textbooks or exams.

But Chen, a sex-ed teacher for a decade now, still tries to engage her students, and when she gets lucky, they challenge her, too. During one session, in the face of a morality lesson on sex and responsibility, a student proclaimed, "Having sex is an intrinsic right for human beings. We are supposed to have it if we want to!"

The question now may be whether quality sex education, too, should be a basic right for Chinese citizens. A 2013 study of the past five years shows that more than 90 percent of Chinese youth possess little knowledge of contraception or how to prevent pregnancy, said Peng Xiaohui, deputy secretary general of the World Association of Chinese Sexologists and a professor at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, Hubei Province.

"The reason for the high rate is because the majority of schools do not have sex education class or have it as an optional course only," Peng said. Additionally, as stated in a 2011 Global Times report, about 8 million Chinese women have abortions every year and the average age of these women keeps dropping.

Li Yinhe, sociological researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Science and author of Sociology of Sex, said that sex education in China is in a rut.

"The lack of authorized textbooks, the shortage of teaching hours and the inadequate training for teachers are the three factors that contribute to its low quality," she said.

An aborted subject

With more than a decade of experience in teaching sex ed, Chen has witnessed plenty of change during her career. But in her tenure Chen has also encountered the same problems over and over: parents get upset with her curriculum, proposed texts get rejected. She faces a chronic lack of institutional and public support.

Because there are no exams administered in the sex-ed class, Chen can't be assessed and the progress of the teacher - or students - can't be measured. Teachers often have no sense on what and how they are supposed to teach, Chen said. And though she's happy to get creative and use discussions to teach, she says the lack of textbooks also presents a barrier to effective instruction for some teachers.

In 2011, the sex education pamphlet Growing Step, published by a primary school in Chaoyang district, caused a huge public dispute over its cartoons and descriptions of sexual intercourse. It contained an illustration of male and female sexual organs. A caption read, "Sexual intercourse is the intimate way of expressing love between a father and mother in which the father will put his penis into the vagina of the mother." Given that this pamphlet is for the first and second grade of primary school students, many claimed that its content was too radical and inappropriate. Because of this parent-driven controversy, the pamphlet was also rejected at Chen's middle school.

A losing battle to delay sexuality

Chen disagrees with parents who wish to delay sex ed. Anecdotally, she can attest to the need to start sex ed in primary schools.

One time a student confided in her that she had been groped by a man three years prior, when she was 12.

"She thought she had lost her virginity because of this," Chen said. "She's from a traditional family and didn't dare to tell her parents about this incident or how it made her feel."

【1】 【2】

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:LiXiang、Ye Xin)

Leave your comment0 comments

  1. Name


Selections for you

  1. East China Sea Fleet conducts drill

  2. Live fire drill of PLA tanks

  3. People mourn over British fallen soldier

  4. Paintings of mentally retarded children

  5. Blind date event held in China's Hangzhou

  6. Rainfall witnessed in C China

  7. Glacier shrinks on Qilian Mountain

  8. Enjoy rape flower blossom in Beijing

  9. China may start taxing more luxury goods

  10. Christie's 2013 spring auctions kicks off in HK

Most Popular


  1. Chinese premier's Swiss tour fruitful, influential
  2. China-Switzerland FTA to benefit both sides
  3. What China-Switzerland FTA brings about?
  4. What does Premier Li's Europe visit mean?
  5. Not enough attention paid to neurological diseases
  6. Why Chinese youths appear gloomy
  7. Let taxi fare reform be fair
  8. Beijing taxi fare rise hardly seen as all-win solution
  9. Hope and concerns for civilian drone industry
  10. Exchange rate reform may take time

What’s happening in China

Couple say 'I do' after 35-year wait

  1. Police bust drug ring in central China
  2. Gas pipeline explosion injures two in east China
  3. China's energy demand to peak in 20 years
  4. Life Left-behind family members after disasters
  5. Wuhan bus driver suspected of taking drugs