The Practical Problems and Progress of Western Mainstream Sex Education Models

By Lei, Yun; Huang, Lin et al. | Studies in Sociology of Science, June 1, 2011 | Go to article overview
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The Practical Problems and Progress of Western Mainstream Sex Education Models

Lei, Yun, Huang, Lin, Liu, Demin, Studies in Sociology of Science

Currently, sex education has attracted widespread attention around the world, and most western countries have formed their own distinctive education models. Among the wide variety of education models, there are greater differences between "Comprehensive Sex Education" and "Abstinence-Only Sex Education" in the purpose and content of the course, which represent the two endpoints of the adolescents' sex education models (Jiang, 2009). It is a benefit to achieve innovative education models by reflecting the two models' practices in China.


1.1 The Acceptance and Identity of Abstinence-Only Sex Education

It has been less than thirty years since sex education started in China; therefore, in such a short time it is difficult to form a unique education model (Xue, 2009). Learning from the experience of other countries is definitely an inevitable way to develop sex education in China. Considering the western education models, abstinence-only education model is undoubtedly the most accredited one which corresponds to the traditional Chinese sex education notions. Historically, China builds her society on agricultural patriarchal families, in which the most basic sex morality advocates that "sexual activity must be controlled and restricted by marriage or it shall not be tolerated or accepted." (Pan, 1988) For a long time, with the interpretation and intensification of Confucian culture, the moral standards have been rooted deep into people's hearts, which are similar to the views held by abstinence-only sex education model. It promotes the basic education notions, for example "the sole purpose of sex education is to teach adolescents to realize that only banning premarital sex can give them a good social status and healthy constitution both physically and mentally"; "No extra-marital sex is the standard that all students receiving sex education should recognize"; "It enables students to understand that abstinence is the only effective way to avoid wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and other diseases efficaciously", which can be easily recognized by the education authorities in China. (Tulin, 1995). Although the abstinence-only sex education model is easy to accept in China, many people do not regard it a necessity to set up a dedicated course for its being fit with our traditional values to a great extent. In order to deal with the recent increasingly-extrusive adolescents' sex problems, the model is being implemented in school. Therefore, it is the time to implement abstinence-only sex education model in China while the model seems fairly acceptable.

1.2 The Practicing and Refuting of Abstinence-Only Sex Education

"Chastity lesson" established in Zhejiang University's in 2008 may be a famous practice of abstinence-only sex education model in China. As the practice of this sex education was covered by the media, a nationwide debate was aroused and discussions were also stirred up on some top sites such as Sina, Phoenix, etc. In this regard, some scholars enumerate arguments--"chastity lesson is a kind of sexual intimidation education" and "chastity lesson is far away from reality" and itemize "chastity lessons' harm" to refute abstinence-only sex education (Fang, 2008).

In fact, abstinence-only sex education attempts to use morality to bind adolescents' sexual behavior, which explains why abstinence-only sex education gradually fades away from the central stage. At the present times, adolescents' precocious puberty has been very common. Young people around 12 years old have already entered adolescence while they will not get married until they are about 24 or 25 and even 30 years old. It is very difficult to use morality to suppress human nature for nearly 20 years, which is totally different from that in the ancient time. "In the ancient time, male at the age of 16 and female of 13 may get married" (Dong, 1998).

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