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Controversy over city summer camp to teach kids about sex

A SEX-EDUCATION summer camp is to be held in the city next month for the first time.

The three-day camp, with the theme of "Where I Came From," is for children aged between 8 to 12. Boys and girls will be taught in separate classes.

The 2,000 yuan (US$293) course has proved popular with a number of parents and almost all the spaces have been taken up, but there is some skepticism about whether it will be effective or is appropriate.

Launched by a Nanjing-based company, the sex-education camp has been held in about 50 cities across the country but is being held in Shanghai for the first time. "Many Chinese youngsters lack adequate sex education from teachers and parents," said Gao Weiwei, director of the company's Shanghai branch.

Sex education is a hot topic on many child-care forums with parents wondering how to answer tough questions raised by their children as they didn't receive sex education in their youth.

"Chinese parents are always at a complete loss when facing the question of 'where did I come from,'" Gao said.

The camp has bought books and comics from overseas institutions and translated them into Chinese.

Some parents support the course as it answers tough sex-related question for them and teaches girls how to protect themselves as well.

Jin Yuefeng, a Nanjing mother whose 10-year-old son took the course last year, said: "It's better for kids to be instructed by professionals other than through the Internet."

But others disagree.

"Kids may have no interest in the field but develop great focus on it after they are specially sent to receive the education," said Jeff Zhuang, a local father with a three-year-old boy.

"Children develop strong curiosity of the world including sex-related issues from the age of eight," Gao said. "They will become too shy to talk about the issue in adolescence."

She said parents and teachers should give them the right information at the best time before they get access to any bad information. "They will be more curious and seek the information by various approaches if parents try to keep sex a secret from them."

But some educators question the content of the course because it did not comply with Chinese circumstances.

"It is better for the institution to cooperate with local schools rather than copy the western mode," said Xu Guangxing, professor of psychology at East China Normal University. "The new pattern of sex class may not get along well with the traditional culture."

Xu said improved sex education needed the joint efforts of home education, schools and the whole society. He didn't expect the three-day camp would have much effect.


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