The other day, I heard an eight-year old boy say that he had “a small crush” on a girl in his class. I asked for the difference between “big crush” and “small crush”. “Big crush”, he said, is when you go “mmmmmoooch” on somebody, while demonstrating a kiss. I sighed out of relief. “Small crush,” he explained, “is when you stare at somebody and think peaceful thoughts.” That is just so beautifully na?ve to hear.
Innocence of children is precious, necessary, yet tragically vulnerable. It takes only a photo, a joke, a dialogue, or a short video clip to destroy it. After singing the song of experience, you cannot leave songs of innocence in the repertoire. After acquisition of sexual knowledge, there is no turning back.
Adults in China are in a hurry to bring sex education to minors. TV reporters go to streets approaching people with questions like: “do you know where you come from?” Mind you, these are not some philosophical questions. They want people to talk about sex, and how sex brings about birth in public TV programs to be aired indiscriminately to audiences of all ages. In cities, special exhibits are put up for children to learn about sex. Newspapers carry woeful reports on how lacking our sex education is. It seems like a national crisis is brewing.
Sex education may be necessary at some point, but what’s the rush? Most people of my age grew up not receiving sex education of any kind . Our teachers and parents were never paranoid about us plunging into matrimony in ignorance and stupidity. Yet we are so smart that we just figured it out. We turned out just fine. It is even an option for things to take their natural courses, and educate only when an educational intervention becomes necessary.
Avid sex-education advocates often claim that China is not up to speed with the developed countries in sex education, which made me wonder if there is a cold or hot war going on out there that I am missing. I had thought that we are rather advanced in this area, with some of our corrupted officials capable of having dozens of mistresses. No American politician is capable of such amazing feat without being knocked right off whatever pedestal they occupy.
National benchmarking about sex education is unnecessary and misleading, especially if we look only at whether and how much sex education is available to students. One risks taking things out of context when talking about sex education of a particular country.
Other factors, such as parent choices, can be left out of the picture. In the United States, sex education is offered to school children by nurses, but parents are often given the choice to opt out if parents feel it is too early for their children. Children’s bodies develop at different pace, with some requiring education earlier while others can wait. Waiting is not always a bad thing. Children lose little as such knowledge won't run away somewhere, and they gain a fuller childhood.
In the United States, children are actually well protected from sexual content in public media. Movies follow a rating system that make it illegal to show certain types of content to minors. Child protection laws forbid inappropriate adult content used on TV and on the radio. Web sites for children are free from adult content, or their administrators face criminal charges. It is in this context that sex education becomes necessary for students at an appropriate age.
In China, a visit to a news portal is sufficient to destroy the innocence of children as there is so much pornographic or semi-pornographic information out there. There are few children or family-friendly sites that are free from any inappropriate adult content. Movies and TV programs constantly broadcast to the general public content that make even adults blush. On social networking sites, adult content is everywhere, in text, audio or visuals. China in general has become an over-sexed society.
Even when sex education becomes necessary at a certain age, the curriculum should not be narrowly focused on how sex works, which is the easy part, or so I think. It is an affected and disgusting exaggeration for “experts” to claim the widespread ignorance of sexual behavior. Any coming-of-age movie or book will show you that children discover such things eventually. It is not a rocket science, so to speak.
Our media may twist a few anecdotes about some “ignorant” young couples to conclude about a general lack of sex education. Few stand up to bring attention to the social and moral aspects of sex for younger people. Children may get educated to know how sex works, but they are not taught about the social, moral or spiritual aspects of sex. Such misguided education is probably related to the high rate of abortion among college and even high school students these days.
It is bizarre that sexologists become almost superstars in China. They use their public platforms to vehemently advocate sex education. It is as if many adults lose sleep worrying that the young are having a sex education deficit compared to their peers in other countries. If young children do not know they come their moms’ wombs, that’s not the end of the world. They will figure it out sooner or later. Jokes of them coming from trees would bring a good chuckle years later. What’s the harm? And remember, some fake ignorance to fool others.
Sex is a beautiful thing. It is a gift to humanity. However, premature education just takes the beauty out of the equation. Postponing such knowledge till later may bring greater joy.
The alleged lack of sex education is a largely a manufactured crisis. Schools should be tasked to tackle more urgent and important issues. What about physical education? Students are so physically weak nowadays that some schools are canceling long distance races. Or, how about focusing student attention on another important human organ, the brain?