BEIJING—Two recent surveys, one of Chinese college students and the other of Chinese teenagers, indicate that a high percentage of young people in the country learn about sex from watching pornography. The latest survey—conducted Oct. 9-15 by the Guangdong provincial population and family planning commission and Guangdong provincial sexology association—has led to the added suggestion by the government that the manner in which young people are learning about sex is leading to increasingly liberal attitudes and unsafe practices.
"Students are becoming more open to sex because they have more knowledge of sexual freedom," said Zhang Feng, director of the Guangdong provincial population and family planning commission, about the survey, which engaged 1,000 students at 10 universities in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province.
According to xinhuanet.com, about 49 percent of the college students polled approve of premarital sex, 34 percent said they used condoms, and nearly 30 percent said they did not think it was necessary to use condoms. The statistic that is being used by Feng as well as others to suggest that young people remain ignorant about sex because of where they are getting information is the approximately 40 percent of respondents who said they have accessed porn on the internet.
"My knowledge about sex would be totally empty if I had not watched porn movies," said a Guangzhou University student who declined to be named.
Feng added that such attitudes are leading to an equally problematic ignorance among China’s youth about safe sex methods, and noted that about 17 percent of respondents had suffered from sex-related diseases.
The survey was released in conjunction with the eighth annual Guangzhou Sex Festival, which took place Oct. 29-31. The festival, which includes a lingerie show and forums on subjects such as birth control, is intended to address sexual issues and awareness of safe sex. Considering the size of its population, China’s rate of HIV infection is relatively low (0.057 percent), but in 2009 approximately 42 percent of new cases were through heterosexual sex, and an estimated 740,000 people were living with the virus, according to Avert.org.
The second recent survey that addressed attitudes about sex among young people was conducted in August by The China Youth Daily newspaper, which surveyed 3,000 teenagers, three-quarters of whom also said that the internet is their prime source for information about sex. School and parents ranked last as important resources for sex education, a result that was not a surprise to one Chinese academic.
"There is a severe lack of formal sex education in the country. Most teachers, from primary schools to universities, do not have knowledge about sex. So how can they teach students?" Qiu Hongzhong, a professor of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, observed.
Despite such comments, the government has embarked on an aggressive campaign to eradicate or make inaccessible porn sites on the internet and mobile networks, shuttering thousands in the past several years.