NPC deputy to propose sex education in kindergartens, compiling Chinese textbooks to 'help break Western-dominated values'
Published: Mar 02, 2023 11:00 PM
Children in Yangpu district, Shanghai have sex education in August 2013. Photo: CFP

Children receive sex education at a kindergarten in Yangpu District, Shanghai in August 2013. Photo: CFP

A motion to introduce sex education into kindergartens and compile teaching materials in line with China's national conditions, which will be put forward at the upcoming annual two sessions, has sparked widespread discussion on social media, with experts saying that sex education that respects the laws of natural science and Chinese social values will break education models based on Western ideology and values.

"Sex education is an indispensable part of schooling. Kindergarten is a crucial period for comprehensive sex education in schools," Chen Wei, a doctor from a hospital in Quzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, told the Global Times. 

Chen, who is also a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), China's national legislature, is set to submit a motion urging kindergartens to provide sex education and use textbooks that are suitable for Chinese culture.

She believes that comprehensive sex education will instill young people with certain knowledge, skills, attitudes and values toward sex, which will ensure their health and dignity.

"Giving young people comprehensive sex education can postpone their first intercourse, reduce the frequency of sex and risks for those young people, and let them know how to use birth control measures," according to Chen.

A total of 131,000 people have been prosecuted for sexually assaulting minors, including rape and child molestation, in the past five years, according to data released by the Supreme People's Procuratorate at a press conference on Wednesday.

In 2021, 223 cases of sexual assault against children were reported, involving more than 569 victims, among whom the proportion of boys grew, a report published by a Chinese nongovernmental organization revealed.

For minors at a critical stage of physical and psychological development, scientific and normative sex education and values based on laws and moral customs jointly internalize and shape their behaviors and values, Peng Xiaohui, a sexologist at Central China Normal University and vice-chairman of the China Sexology Association, told the Global Times on Thursday.

In November 2021, the Ministry of Education issued the Guide for Life Safety and Health Education Curriculum Teaching Materials for Primary and Secondary Schools, which requires students to "learn the basic knowledge and skills of adolescent health care and improve their ability to prevent sexual harassment and assault."

Beijing and Shanghai released the first pilot sex education textbooks for primary schools as early as 2011.

But several experts have said that not only are there few kindergartens in China that provide appropriate sex education for children, but most teachers have not received proper training in sex education, and localized teaching materials are also hard to find.

Some experts believe sex education textbooks should not be just copied from the West. These textbooks should be developed by authorities, experts on child sex education and even representatives of public opinion, Peng said, adding that these materials should be piloted and gradually improved in select kindergartens, so as to be promoted in kindergartens across the country.

It's alarming that some Western countries have infiltrated sex education in China and instilled some so-called politically correct ideas into the younger generation through foundations, agencies and NGOs, the expert noted, adding that this constitutes Western interference in China's social development from the commanding heights of discourse.

Many netizens and parents expressed similar views, saying that they encourage and support the idea of children receiving sex education, only if the content is consistent with children's cognition, social cognition and legal constraints.

Sex education in kindergarten can start with a simple understanding of the body, so that children can gain basic judgment and awareness of self-protection, a netizen surnamed Jian told the Global Times. More specific sex education and gender knowledge should be strengthened through courses at high schools and universities, she added.

Another parent surnamed Yang said that sex education content must be appropriate for the age and cognitive level of children, while attention should also be paid to protecting children's privacy and safety.

Education should not only teach children a correct and normal understanding of sexuality, but also guide them to shape values in line with the laws and social cognition of Chinese society, Peng said.