Japan: A New Spin on Sex Education for a Sexier New Generation
June 1, 2004
Revisions to Japan's sex education classes are being contemplated following the news that increased discussions about pregnancy and STDs have failed to stem annual increases in teenage abortions and STDs among youths. The Education, Science and Technology Ministry policy has been to teach pupils about physical changes to the male and female bodies, pregnancy, healthy gender concepts and family values. But today's children "know more, are freer with sex and are thus vulnerable to a host of sex-related problems, said Hirotaka Kujrigaoka of the Tokyo Board of Education.Adapted from:
Sex education, which begins in the third grade, has run into difficulties with parents who have protested the use of graphic material, the education ministry reported. Many conservative parents also argue that displaying condoms and other contraceptives in class is against Asian values and could promote early sexual activity.
Surveys indicate that Japanese girls now begin to menstruate at ages 10-12, at least two years earlier than their mothers. Of third-year high school students, 30 percent report they have experienced sex at least once, compared to two decades ago when sexual debut was most often at age 20.
In 2002, almost 50,000 abortions were recorded among Japanese age 20 and below, compared to 27,838 in 1994. Youths ages 10-19 comprised 29.8 percent of new chlamydia cases reported in 2002.
While intercourse can only be discussed in high school, 70 percent of primary students are already aware of the topic, according to research by Dr. Masako Kihara, a teacher at Kyoto University and pioneer of Japanese sex education. She recommends conducting periodic school surveys to assess students' interest in sexual activity before developing a basic curriculum. A school nurse or counselor can then work with individual children to teach them based on their needs, she said.
Inter Press Service
05.27.04; Suvendrini Kakuchi
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.