Three main obstacles are sex education, health promotion and teens’ attitudes towards the subject.
A free youth sex and health consulting service office, Shanghai Qin Qing Consulting Office (QQCO), was forced to close down due to poor performance for five consecutive years, the Shanghai Evening Post reported Wednesday.
Hu Xiaoyu, vice president of the Qin Qing Consulting Office, talked about the “embarrassing situation” the office has been going through in the past five years, and announced the closure during a youth sex-education promotion conference Wednesday in Shanghai.
The office helps youths aged between 10 and 19, who are in the sensitive stage about sex and sex education, providing consulting services and free condom distribution. To better serve their targeted group, the office once adjusted its operating time, from 16:30 to 19:00, but it didn’t change the situation -“Few people came, only a few phone calls some days,” Hu said.
Despite the few face-to-face consultations in the free service office, Shanghai witnessed a continuous rising in teen pregnancies. According to a survey of teens’ love and sex behaviors in vocational school, 56.7% of teenagers had fallen in love, and 32.4% of them were sexually active, yet 46.3% had never learned about sexual behavior and protection; 26.4% of the teens were dissatisfied with the current sex education.
“The promotion of sex knowledge meets three major obstacles – the personal preserved sense of shame about sex, poor public promotion, and the troubles of some middle or high school managers intervening during the promotion,” Hu said at the conference. “Some school officials fear the public campaign will be too open, so they censor if first.”
Flower girls’ Guidebook, a free magazine produced by QQCO, caused trouble at home when it was handed out to teenagers, because parents opposed the “frank explanations” about sex organs, contraceptive devices, and instruction of condom use, among other things. “We cannot tolerate our girls reading such a book because teens are curious to know and practice,” some parents said.
Others said, “It’s completely dangerous.” A majority of Chinese parents still prefer the “let it be” attitude about sex education, where they neither directly teach nor indirectly mention it but adopt a “time will tell” method as their children grow up.
The awkwardness of promoting sex education also was cited by teachers, according to another survey conducted by the same group. It shows 25% of interviewees at 10 vocational schools in Shanghai directly “refuse” to teach sex education in class，and another 36% of teachers tend to “shy away” from sex topics if students ask. Miu Jing, head of Xinqiao Vocational School, said this phenomenon among teachers is another hindrance to promoting sex education.
“Embarrassment from teens, teachers and parents constitute the hardship of sex education and promotion,” said Hu at the conference.