The controversy over sex education
Where do babies come from? Almost every kid presents this tricky question to parents. But once they reach a certain age, answers such as “babies are delivered by storks” are no longer enough to satisfy their curiosity. Is sex education in classrooms the answer? beijingkids sat down with four students from the German Embassy School of Beijing to discuss the who, what, when and why of sex education.
Diana Zhang, Grade 12, has been in Beijing for 11 years.
Fabian Meisel, Grade 12, has been in Beijing for one year.
Konstantin Wolf, Grade 12, has been in Beijing for four years.
Pierre Stommer, Grade 12, has been in Beijing just over a year.
At which grade did your school start sex education?
Fabian: Third grade. The teacher would sometimes show us bees and flowers and explain how that worked. The kids were not really interested in listening, though, everybody was kind of embarrassed and we’d giggle and laugh.
Diana: Third grade, too. When we were older we moved on to biology and more scientific stuff.
Konstantin: I had a class in sixth or seventh grade, but it wasn’t really about sex, but about body parts and functions, like a health class.
Pierre: I came to this school in tenth grade. Back in Germany, we didn’t have any sex education.
Is sex education necessary for teens?
Fabian: I think it’s very important. For example, my friend’s brother back home has just had his first child, and he’s only 17. Although he knew the importance of contraception, he just wasn’t careful enough. Now he has to find a job to support his kid, but in Germany, if you don’t have a proper education, it’s very hard to get a good job. So now he’s in a really difficult situation.
Pierre: I agree with that. It’s important to know how things work, how to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and prevent an unexpected pregnancy, etc.
Diana: You need to learn the consequences of certain actions and take responsibility for your life.
Do you think there is a difference between girls and boys in terms of the importance of sex education?
Diana: No. I think both have to know and take equal responsibility. It doesn’t matter if it’s a girl or boy. If a boy doesn’t want to take responsibility then he’s not old enough to do it.
Is it the school’s responsibility to teach kids about sex?
Pierre: I’ve learned most of it from my friends and from what my parents told me. I think it is the parents’ responsibility. Schools are not responsible for teaching kids about sex.
Diana: But not every parent wants to tell his or her kids about sex – I think it’s the school’s responsibility.
Do you talk to your parents about sex?
Konstantin: Not really. When I was 12, if I had some questions, of course I could go to them and ask, and they’d tell me things that were important. But that doesn’t happen much now.
Pierre: Now we’re already grown up, so it’s not a big deal as long as we know what we’re doing.
When is the best time to start sex education for kids?
Fabian: When they are 14 or 15.
Pierre: I think earlier, like 12, because by age 15, kids may have already started having sex – it’ll be too late to educate them about it.
Diana: I’ve heard of a girl who had sex at 11, so I think maybe even earlier, like at the age of 7 or 8. Everything’s less awkward when you are younger, and you are more open-minded and receptive to knowledge. Once kids are 12 or 13 and start to become aware of the differences between boys and girls, it gets really awkward to talk about sex.
Konstantin: Just when you want to, as soon as possible.