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Parents Mostly Mum on Sex Topics with Their Kids

Only a small percentage of Shanghai parents have talked to their children about sex, but most said they would discuss the subject calmly and give honest answers when their kids do want to know the facts of life.

The parental attitudes were revealed on Tuesday as the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission briefed representatives of local consulates on the city's population situation.

Shanghai is facing enormous pressure from a growing population that exceeds an ideal size, commission officials said.

There were 18.58 million registered residents in Shanghai last year, and the city plans to control the number to within 19.5 million by 2010.

"Shanghai is taking various steps to improve population management, and sex education is one of the most important issues in enhancing safe sex and reproductive health," said Xie Lingli, the commission's director.

The commission surveyed 19,000 local parents in May about their attitudes toward sex education for their children.

Only 2,893 mothers and fathers said their children have initiated discussions on the topic.

"People with higher education backgrounds are more likely to treat the questions calmly," Xie said. "About 60 percent of mothers with primary school or lower education expressed a willingness to answer such questions, while the figure rose to 81 percent if the mother held a bachelor's degree."

Most families believed education is very important in helping children adopt healthy attitudes toward sex.

More than 80 percent of the respondents agreed that parents should tell their children about contraception before they marry, and said sex education can help children become more responsible about sex. Over 75 percent did not believe that sex education would necessarily lead to sexual activity.

Most parents agreed they should be their child's first teachers about sex but that parents should also take more responsibility for school courses on the subject.

About 46 percent of the parents said family sex education should start when children enter middle school, and 21.6 percent of parents thought high school was the proper time.

Population officials said the survey will help them carry out more effective education programs that bring together parents, teachers and children.

The commission also said it will work to improve the quality of sex education in schools and universities and set up sex and reproductive health consultation rooms.

(Shanghai Daily November 12, 2008)

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