Survey explores young peoples' attitudes toward sex, romance

One fourth of the teenagers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou start dating at secondary school, survey shows.

One fourth of secondary school students in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou start dating in school and most young people consider sex to be something “beautiful,” according to the latest adolescent sexual health survey.

The survey conducted by the Shanghai Academy of Social Science and other institutes covers topics such as sexual behavior, sexual knowledge and sex education. 

Findings were released yesterday based on survey data from over 5,300 young people aged between 15 and 24.

The major sources of sexual knowledge for young people are their friends, parents and the Internet. Only 9.5 percent of respondents received sexual education in school.

According to the survey, nearly 60 percent of respondents have a positive view of sexuality. When asked to describe sex using a pool of words, about 58 percent chose “happy” or “beautiful.” Yet, a full 37 percent found the word “hard to explain.” 

Another 8.5 percent of those surveyed picked “hate,” while 8.6 percent selected “dirty.”

Meanwhile, respondents who found it permissible to engage in intimate acts like kissing, caressing and sex rose to 23.5, 21.8 and 13.3 percent respectively; in each instance nearly doubling from survey results gathered in 2004. In 1999, only 3.2 percent of surveyed youths said it was permissible for them to have sex.

Some 10 percent of middle school students have dated and for high school students this figure climbed to 42.3 percent.

Ye Ruihao, a 17-year-old student in Shanghai, said he started dating a girl during his first year at middle school and learned about sex from television. Although undecided as to whether it’s okay to have premarital sex, he believes that boys should take responsibility if they have sex.

“Now society is more open and many people have sex before their marriage. But there are still some men who disappear afterward,” Ye said. “I think if it happens, men should be responsible and not escape.”

Chen Jialin, a middle school graduate, told Shanghai Daily that she is not against relationships in school, but she thinks they should not affect students’ studies. “It can’t be ruled out that there is a possibility for middle school students to maintain their relationship until marriage, but it’s not that common,” said Chen. “Many neglect their studies after having the relationship.”

Chen said she support couples who can work together on their studies and help each other when they have problems. “Making an effort and striving for a better future together is a... wonderful experience.”

But Chen insisted that students should not have sex before college. “It’s fine to have a relationship but I don’t accept precollege sex.”

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