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Sex education – a need to be open

(People's Daily Online)

13:23, June 09, 2013

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According to the latest statistics from Beijing’s local courts and procurators, sexual abuse of children appears to be on the increase in China, and the victims are becoming younger. Meanwhile, Beijing News and a psychological consulting company recently reported a survey showing that more than ninety percent of parents support the idea of providing sex education to minors and incorporating it into the school curriculum.

In recent years, 340 cases of child sex abuse have been reported in the media. 50 of these took place in schools – 60 percent of which were urban schools - and the majority of suspects were school teachers and headmasters. Although the school campus does not represent the majority of cases of sexual abuse, the reality is that current education in self-protection is far from adequate in helping children to protect themselves against school abusers. Hence, the provision of sex education to children is now a matter of immediate concern.

The survey highlights two factors: victims tend to be between 8 and 12 years old, but the risk of sexual abuse gradually increases from the age of 5. Children should therefore be taught how to deal with the opposite sex to enhance their capacity for self-protection. Additionally, too few schools provide sex education to their pupils, and in some schools sex education has became a self-study class because teachers are too shy to talk about sex-related matters.

Parents support sex education in schools, and growing numbers of schools are recognizing that sex education for their pupils is necessary, but in practice there is a shortage of educational materials designed for the purpose, and a shortage of properly structured lessons.

In cases of abuse, those convicted will eventually be jailed, but prevention is more important than punishment. The growing problem of child sexual abuse makes the issue of education an urgent priority.

In some cities, local governments are establishing child protection centers and publishing books on self-protection for children. Extending the reach of sex education among children in China is an urgent need, and adults have a responsibility to support and promote the principle.

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