Thursday, July 26, 2007

The ABCs of Sex

Recent reports coming out of Shanghai say that more teens are having sex in that city this summer and are calling the accidental pregnancy hotline asking how they can get an abortion.

This comes on the heels of a previous story that nearly half of the pregnant teenagers in the coastal city met their partners on the Internet. Most of the fathers disappeared after learning about the pregnancy, and the teens didn't know their partners' names.

And many of these young women have had multiple abortions, as their form of birth control.

The lack of adequate sex education in schools and parents' reluctance to talk about the subject with their children is a challenge Ma Yinghua is familiar with.

She is a senior councilor studying health and HIV/AIDS education at Peking University.

Ma explains that students are taught health education -- nutrition, health and fitness along with a bit of sex education. It's not until grades 5 and 6 do they learn about puberty and the effects that can have on bodies and minds. The ABC's of sex ed are: A for abstinence, B for be able to say no, and C for condom.

And learning how to use a prophlyactic isn't taught until college and university -- not senior high school.

When pressed if students really know how to use a condom, Ma just said yes without elaborating, instead saying she's gone to conferences in the United States where instructors there admit they have problems talking about sex in class.

She showed various textbooks on sex education that were sanctioned by the government. They were filled with cartoon drawings and not being able to read Chinese, on the whole looked pretty tame. The teacher's handbook was also hardly riveting, also with cartoon illustrations.

Ma trains teachers on how to teach sex education, as well as HIV/AIDS prevention. She started working in this government-funded area in 1996 and teachers had no clue what HIV/AIDS was. But a decade later, they are all quite knowledgeable and are now finding ways of teaching the subject more effectively. She travels around the country, particularly Henan, Guangxi, Heilongjiang provinces as well as big cities.

However, her biggest battle is with school administrators who limit the amount of class time devoted to sex education and HIV/AIDS prevention. Or Ma is asked to lecture to an auditorium filled with students when a small class is more effective for this kind of interactive instruction.

She admits she's frustrated, but continues to have hope that more young people will be armed with the information they need to prevent sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.

While the resources and information are great, Ma also adds that these young people don't know how to resolve problems, especially when it comes to relationships. And with more of them experimenting with sex, they need to understand there's no black and white answer. This too is a big hole that Ma thinks parents should be responsible for and communicate with their sons and daughters.

The sexual revolution in China continues, but only a fraction wiser.

1 comment:

ks said...

yesterday i read in ming pao: a 13 year old girl from china who was in hong kong for only 6 months gave birth to a baby. she must be pregnant before coming to hong kong. what china really needs now is to educate the young. all round education. not just sex education.