Thursday, 22 November 2012

The sexual behaviour of Chinese students - cause for concern?

About 13% of students have sex before marriage - but few talk about contraception

by Michael Woodhead

In China, sexual health and behaviors of young people have become a growing public concern but few studies have been conducted to investigate the prevalence and psychosocial correlates of the phenomenon. A self-reported questionnaire survey on youth sexual behaviors was conducted among 1,500 university students in 2011 at Hefei, a middle-size city in eastern China.
About 13% of students reported having pre-marital heterosexual intercourse (15% of male versus 9% of females).  About 11%  of students had oral sex (10.5% of males versus 11.2% females); 2.7%  of students reported same-sex activities (3.4% of males versus 1.7% females); Almost half  the students reported masturbation (70% of males versus 11% of females);  In addition, 57%  of Chinese students viewed pornography (86% of males versus 16% females). 
In terms of sexual communication about sexual knowledge acquisition, 14% talked to their parents about sex (11% of males versus 18% of females); about 7% of students reported having conversation with parents on contraception. About forcing sexual behavior, 2.7% (4% of males versus 0.9% of females) reported forcing their sexual partners to have sex, while 2.4% of males and 1.2% of females) reported being forced to have sex. 
Gender was a significant predictor of sexual behaviors in university students: males reported more sexual behaviors including sexual fantasy, heterosexual intercourse, masturbation, viewing pornography and talking about sex with friends.  For males, having romantic relationships, past sex education experiences, low educational aspirations, time spent on the Internet, and urban background were significantly associated with more sexual behaviors. For female students, having romantic relationships and urban native settings predicted sexual behaviors.
The authors of the report conclue: "Sexual behavior among University students in China is not uncommon, although there are limited ways for students to acquire sex-related knowledge: male students showed significantly more sexual behaviors than female students."
Since having romantic relationships and more time spent online were important predictors of sexual behaviors among university students they suggest that to guide healthy sexual behaviors in young people, "comprehensive sex education programs that provide necessary sexual health knowledge about safe sex should be developed and implemented in universities in China, particularly for students who have romantic relationships and those who spend long periods of time on the Internet."

Read more: BMC Public Health

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