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Is new sex-ed text too graphic?

(Global Times)

10:27, August 18, 2011

Two grade three pupils carry their schoolbags to simulate what it is like to be a pregnant woman during a sex education class at Anwai Santiao Primary School in Dongcheng district. (CFP Photo)

A booklet aimed at teaching primary school students knowledge about sex has attracted attention as well as causing concerns in Beijing.

An example from the illustrated text, prepared for pupils of Chaoyang Dingfuzhuang Second Primary School to use next semester reads: "Dad inserts his penis inside mom and shoots his sperm fiercely into mom's vagina."
The pilot project is part of the plan to popularize sex education in all Beijing's primary and middle schools.

According to the Beijing Daily, the content of the booklet Steps Toward Maturity has crossed the line of traditional sex education by introducing content that details the specifics of intercourse.

"This daring booklet absorbs the essence of both foreign sex education teaching material and traditional Chinese culture. It can be a guide book on sex knowledge, value judgments and behavior," Zhang Mumu, from Beijing Normal University sex education research center, was quoted as saying by the Beijing Daily. The paper reported that Steps Toward Maturity will be used in all primary schools after it is perfected.

Parents showed different attitudes toward the booklet.

"Isn't this just a porn comic?" one father was quoted by the Beijing Daily as saying.

"The clarity of the booklet is actually good, after reading it, children will know everything they need," said Zhang Zheng, mother of a 7-year-old boy who attends Fengtai district's Zhaodengyu Primary School. "You can't describe sex in implicit ways, children won't understand," she said.

Zhang feels embarrassed when her son asks questions about his birth and sex. "His school doesn't provide sex education," Zhang said, adding, "when he got older he became shy and stopped asking, and he'd blush when he met little girls.

"I think the booklet will solve the problem, and I think it will be OK for pupils above third grade [9 years old] to read words such as penis and vagina," Zhang said.

The intentions are very good, said Li Yiman, who works at Xuehuile, a company specializing in pre-primary education, and who is father to a 6-year-old boy.

However, Li thinks the booklet can be a little bit "too abrupt. "It is better to use 'make out' to describe 'intercourse' and use 'put' instead of 'insert,'" he said.

Wang Jianyi, a consultant to the Institute of Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and juvenile psychology expert, agrees with Li's opinion.

"Clarity is needed, but it should avoid side effects," Wang said.

"The description will definitely be inappropriate if it would arouse girls or results in boys having erections," she said.

The biggest problem is that both teachers and pupils become shy when talking about sex, Wang said. "Many teachers are embarrassed and let students read the text themselves, but DIY learning leads to problems," she said.

"Pupils are curious, and if they have inappropriate sexual contact they would get into trouble, " Wang said. "Education must lead the pupils' curiosity to a state of scientific and calm understanding about sex," she noted.

"We'll take parents' concerns into consideration before we launch the text, and we'll make changes if necessary," Tian Xiaoxian, director of the moral education department of Dingfuzhuang school, told the Beijing Daily.

In the fourth national sex education symposia held Tuesday in Beijing, an official from the Beijing Municipal Education Commission stated that all teachers would receive appropriate training in sex education.


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