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TV Series to Promote Sex Education
In a move to break the nation's ancient taboo on discussing sex, China has started shooting its first TV series focusing on sex education for young people.

Entitled "How Can I Tell You This? the TV series starring a group of junior high school students has aroused widespread attention among the conservative, self-conscious Chinese since shortly after its shooting began recently in the east China province of Jiangxi.

In the traditional Chinese culture, "sex" has long been considered a disgraceful, even dirty, word that few would discuss openly. A child would be scolded by his parents for questions about how he was brought into this world or what the differences are between males and females.

"Many youngsters are ignorant even of some very basic facts about their body," said a 60-year-old man surnamed Li with a media organization in Nanchang. "It's not their fault -- their parents and teachers should be more open and enlighten them."

Statistics show most Chinese children enter puberty between 12 and 13 years old, nearly one year earlier than the early 1990s. But most of the 20 million children reaching puberty each year lack information on sex, due to evasive replies to their questions.

"Most of my classmates are sensitive to our physical changes -- boys' Adam's apples and mustaches and girls' breasts, which we can only discuss in private," said Liu Dewei, a third-year junior high student and leading actor in the new series.

As teenagers have more access to sex information in today's world, experts warn that teachers and parents should enlighten them properly to safeguard their mental and physical health.

"Many youngsters have tried to get information from adult websites and porn videos," said a teacher with the No. 1 Secondary School in Nanchang, "And juvenile pregnancies, drug abuse and sexually transmitted diseases have risen among teenage students in recent years."

Liu Zhixian, director of "How Can I Tell You This", hopes the series will provoke the whole society to watch out for children's sexual health, provide them with guidance and teach them how to care for themselves.

China's education authority has also offered children more access to sex information in recent years, and middle schools in major Chinese cities have included comprehensive sex education courses into their curriculum.

Early in 2002, the country's first set of sex education textbooks was published in the northeastern city of Harbin, covering sexual ethics, behavior, procreation and contraception, AIDS prevention and anti-drug warnings.

(Xinhua News Agency February 23, 2003)

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