Shanghai youth's sex education insufficient

Updated: 2014-11-21 15:23

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Young people in Shanghai are lacking in sex education, according to a recent study.

The study was conducted by experts at public health schools of the city's universities, with the goal of determining young people's knowledge of reproductive health; their attitudes toward sex; and their sexual behavior.

Around 6,600 people between the ages of 14 and 23 were surveyed, including students from junior middle schools, high schools, vocational schools, colleges and young workers.

The survey found that 0.97 percent of junior middle school students, 2.4 percent of high school students, and 7.3 percent of vocational schools students said they have had sexual experiences. And the average ages for the first sexual experience are 14.5, 15.4 and 15.9, respectively, which are earlier than previous studies.

"Young people experienced their first sex at a younger age mainly because of their more open attitudes towards sex," said Shi Rong, who helped conduct the study. Shi is from the medical school of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The study also noted that condom use among these young people surveyed is low, especially among vocational school students, who usually have more time to get involved in a relationship.

The report said less than one third of vocational schools students use condoms when they have sex, while the rate among high schools is about 69 percent.

The study also said most young people learn about sex on the Internet. They also have a poor understanding of reproductive health knowledge, such as the use of condoms and the functions of reproductive organs.

"Lack of proper sex education for young people and low awareness on taking reliable protection measures during sex are the most worrying issues in the study," Shi said, adding that proper sex education by both schools and families is important.

Sex education has long been absent from China's classrooms, and parents can be uncomfortable talking about sex with their curious children. Sex education has become a major concern for teachers and parents, made more pressing by a series of sexual assaults against children in recent years.

In 2012, Shanghai published a sex education textbook tailored for family use that followed a first edition for primary schools.

The new edition, also titled Boys and Girls, has a more lively, light-hearted style and utilizes a number of paintings and cartoons, which is more suitable for knowledge-sharing among parents and children, according to Zhang Zhijun, an editor from the Shanghai Education Publishing House, which worked on the book.