China has recently introduced its first cartoon book series on puberty and sex education from the Republic of Korea.
The book series, "I want to know myself," has been popular for primary and middle school students in Korea. China has translated it and made some changes to suit Chinese adolescent's needs.
"The book is laden with meticulous care for children's healthy growth," said Chen Xuefeng with the China children center. "It is very helpful to children's smooth transition to adolescence."
China, a country that has traditionally rarely discussed sex publicly, has published several sex education books in recent years, revealing a more open and scientific attitude.
During the past decade, the overall health of about 323 million young people aged 10 to 24 has been improving steadily. However, according to the Population and Development Country Report issued in September, they have experienced an earlier age of sexual and psychological maturity. Young people are now more open toward sex and their sexual ethics are changing; at the same time, premarital pregnancies and induced abortions have increased.
"Teenagers have become sexually mature and active much earlier, but lack of sexual education will put them in a position that's very vulnerable to HIV/AIDS," said Liu Liqing, chief representative of Marie Stopes, a branch of the British non-commercial public service organization.
Officials and experts said that half of the country's Internet population of 87 million are people under the age of 24. Many of these young people visit porn sites to learn about sex, because there are few other sources of information. Sex education has always been a low priority in schools, and parents are often reluctant to talk about the still-taboo issue.
In April 2002, a textbook on sex was for the first time officially published on the Chinese mainland.
In September this year, the country incorporated sexual and reproduction knowledge into the formal school curriculum.
(Xinhua News Agency December 26, 2004)