Channel 101: Sex Education

NOW TV's controversial TV programme highlights the city's slow progress in sex education

Fancy seeing footage of naked people? How about close-up shots of sexual organs? While these images are usually confined to the boundaries of pornographic videos or biology textbooks, they can now also be seen, albeit controversially, in your living room.

The Sex Education Show, a television programme, was meant to be a groundbreaking attempt to explore sensitive issues such as sex, virginity and contraception. Since its premiere in November 2012 till its last episode in mid January, it had ignited public debate on sex eduation, of which one of the hosts and a lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University's Department of Social Work, Mr Shiu Ka-chun, saw it as successful.

No sooner was it aired on Now TV's channel 100, the TV-operator's most popular channel, the programme was forced to move to Channel 101, which has fewer audiences, as it was swiftly denounced for being too radical and extreme.

"After the premiere of the programme, we received many complaints from parents," said Mr Shiu. "But it also means we have done something right."

He agreed to host the hotly-debated programme, which invited various experts to discuss sexual topic openly, because he believed that conventional methods of passing on sexual knowledge such as the sex education curriculum in schools, were inadequate.

Mr Shiu said it was common for parents and teachers to dodge certain embarrassing aspects of sex such as circumcision, ejaculation and orgasm. In addition, the wide usage of pictures, soft toys and scientific terms in teaching had also made the topic difficult for children to fully understand what they were learning.

He also criticized that schools usually tackled sexual education from a moral standpoint, which further restricted the more "humane and realistic" approach on sex education.

According to a survey conducted by the Youth Crime Prevention Center of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, fallacies over sexual intercourse are widespread among teenagers. Among 273 youths interviewed in 2011, 35 per cent thought "ejaculating outside the vagina" was an effective contraception method, while another 12 per cent said washing their bodies after sex was also effective. But they are not.

Mr Tim Ho, a former teacher with 13 years of experience in teaching sex education blamed the government for not providing enough resources to schools. He said the government last issued a guideline on sex education 15 years ago and most of the content are now long past their expiry date. The Education Bureau had altogether issued two guidelines on sex education, the first one was in 1986, while the second one was in 1997.

However, Mr Chan Yiu-kit, executive of the Education Division of the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPA), said it was difficult for schools to use the way how Now TV's Sex Education programme taught sex education.

"It takes time to talk about sex openly and positively in society and especially in school," said Mr Chan, who was also invited to the premiere of Sex Education. "We focus instead on explaining the human structure, rather than details of sexual intercourse."

Mr. Chan said the FPA did see the need to step up its efforts in promoting sex education in the territory and had been offering training seminars for teachers of all levels, which focused on the proper communication skills needed to educate children about sex.

"Schools are interested in these programmes and we receive applications from over 100 schools every year," said Mr Chan, adding that the government had also set up a website offering teaching materials such as case studies and animations, but admitted that it was far from sufficient.

Mr Ho, the former teacher, agreed that it was time for various parties to show their support in promoting sex education in schools.

He suggested that the government should allocate more money to revamp the sex education curriculum, while schools should set up a specific task group that was primarily responsible for teaching it.

 

Reported by Eunice Leung

Edited by Joyce Cheung

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