Tue, Jul 19, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Sex education still a taboo for many parents, teachers

By Chen Ping-hung  /  Staff reporter

A survey by the Child Welfare League Foundation released yesterday found that many parents and teachers avoided teaching children about sex, and that while most adolescents knew about birth control, many were misinformed about sex.

The survey on sex education for teenagers showed that nearly 70 percent of parents had never talked about sex with their children, and 25 percent said they were afraid to talk about it.

About 30 percent of teachers also said they avoided sex education, the poll showed.

However, 54 percent of fifth-graders and 70 percent of sixth-graders interviewed said they knew about birth control methods, but 30 percent said they did not know how to express their feelings about sex, foundation executive director Chen Li-ju (陳麗如) said.

The survey results are concerning, as teaching adolescents about sex and how to express their feelings to prevent misconceptions and abusive relationships is a pressing issue, Chen said.

Many adolescents had misconceptions about sex: About 10 percent of those surveyed believed that consensual sex between people less than 16 years old was not illegal, and more than 25 percent assumed that there was no connection between sexual activity and sexually transmitted diseases, Chen said.

More than 20 percent of adolescents believed sex education was unhealthy, the poll showed.

About 5 percent of respondents said it was acceptable to take revenge on ex-partners if the relationship had been an unhappy one.

Both parents and teachers tend to avoid sex education and more than 50 percent of parents avoided talking about sex, birth control and emotions with their children.

Teachers of older students are more likely to avoid sex education, with 25 percent of fifth-grade teachers saying they did not teach sex education and the ratio rising to 37 percent among eighth-grade teachers.

“It might be that sex education for older children is more complicated and embarrassing to teach, so more teachers refuse to teach it,” Chen said.

“Children need to learn more about social and emotional education than just about body parts and sexual activity. Thirty percent of children do not know how to express themselves or how to deal with a failed relationship or breaking up,” she said.

The foundation urged teachers not to skip sex education and encouraged parents to talk to their children so they are exposed to ideas about sex.

“To prevent abusive relationships, it is more important to teach children about emotional control than examining why they can be abusive. Parents and teachers should empathize with children and help them deal with emotional issues when they have a fight with a friend or get bad exam results,” she said.

The government should provide more sex education training to teachers or consider recruiting professional sex educators, she said.

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