Sex education at home is "seriously deficient", a survey published yesterday by the All-China Women's Federation said.
The study polled more than 5,000 school students aged six to 17, and about 6,500 parents from 28 cities and counties in 10 provinces and regions.
Most of the children surveyed said they would like to ask their parents questions about sex, but a majority of moms and dads said they were too embarrassed to answer.
For example, 54 percent of parents said they had never talked with their children about how to deal with sexual harassment, while less than 30 percent said they had provided only limited advice.
Similarly, on the topic of the physiological changes that happen during puberty, 42 percent of parents said they had not discussed the subject, while 40 percent said they had given only a little information.
Lu Shizhen, from the China Youth College for Political Sciences, and head of the National Minors Family Education Status Survey team, said: "Families should serve as the classrooms for children's first lessons in sex education."
Han Siping, a researcher with the Hangzhou Education Research Institute in Zhejiang province, said: "When children are unable to get the information they need from parents and teachers, their thirst for knowledge will drive them to find answers online, or from pornography or movies."
The survey did not paint an entirely dim picture of parents, however.
Sixty percent said they wanted to learn how to help their children with psychological health issues, while 49 percent were keen to know how to offer good moral guidance.
(China Daily February 28, 2008)