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May 28, 2013

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Cyber love at heart of teen pregnancies

IN a worrying scenario, unexpected pregnancies among teenagers have risen from 30 percent in 2010 to today's 50 percent, and much of it is being blamed on cyber love.

Girls, some of them as young as 14 and 15, are discovering love online and getting pregnant, according to officials from the city's hotline that deals with women battling unexpected pregnancies.

Most of the callers are students, essentially from vocational schools, which has lower academic workload. The others are from migrant families, said officials from the hotline, who are working with Shanghai Youth League Committee on imparting sex education to local middle school students. Much of the education has got to do with the dos and don'ts on cyber love.

Since its launch eight years ago, the hotline 65876866 has received more than 50,000 phone calls and offered help to 4,500 pregnant students, said officials from the Shanghai No. 411 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army, which operates the hotline.

"Early puberty and early first sex because of easy access to the Internet, books and movies also contribute to the rising number of unexpected pregnancy," said Zhu Weijie, a hospital official.

"We pay attention to migrant students, which has a higher number of reproductive diseases, unexpected pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

"As they usually receive less care and are rarely educated about sex, they spend longer time on the Internet."

By 2010, there were 7.95 million people between the ages of 14 and 35 in Shanghai, including 4.21 million migrant youth.

Migrant youth accounted for 52.91 percent of all young residents in the city.

"Migrant students are our major target for this program, which tells students how to deal with cyber love and how to protect themselves," Zhu said.

A previous investigation found 41 percent of Chinese youth learn about sex from the Internet, mostly at social networking spots.

About 40 percent said they received sex education between the ages of 13 to 16 while 18 percent said they never received any education from anywhere.

The top five channels for Chinese youth to receive sex education are the Internet, books, magazines, friends and schools. About 49 percent of youth between 15 and 24 years of age used condoms during their first sexual experience.


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