Four-year-olds may get sex education
By JESSICA CARTER
SEX education could be taught to children as young as four if the Hong Kong Family Planning Association (FPA) adopts a controversial new workbook published last week by its British counterpart.
FPA executive director Dr Margaret Kwan said she would be contacting the British organisation for copies of the book, which has been slammed by family life campaigners for being too explicit.
A former education minister and a headmaster have even called for the book to be burned.
Dr Kwan stressed that while she had not yet seen the book, ''it seems like a very good piece of information''.
''If we think it is all right, and we purchase copies, we may promote it in Hong Kong, and some copies will probably be kept in our library,'' she said.
''With permission from the FPA, we will see if it can be translated from English into Chinese.'' The publication, Primary School Workbook, is aimed at children aged between four and 11, and suggests a series of projects for teachers to conduct with their pupils.
These include one for children aged between four and seven years old, called What is Everything Called?, which asks children to attach labels of body parts - such as nipples, penis, vagina, testicles and pubic hair - to a diagram.
Name the Body Organs is another. It requires pupils to place a paper penis on a diagram of an adult man and to put female sexual organs on a diagram of a woman.
For seven to 11-year-olds, there is the Name Game , which advises teachers to write one word on the blackboard, ''penis'' or ''vagina'', for instance, and ask the children for alternatives. They then discuss which words are going to be used in the classroom.
Puberty Wordsearch asks pupils to look at a puzzle and identify words, including sperm and wet dreams.
Dispelling Myths About Masturbation calls for the teachers to begin the class by saying the word ''masturbation'', and asking children to call out alternative words, as well as myths and stories they have heard.
In the Sexuality Information Game, one group of children picks a question, and another finds the answer from a pre-printed pile. Questions include: What is an orgasm? What is a lesbian? A Sexual Activity Word Puzzle asks pupils to identify key words, such as ''massage'', ''sexual intercourse'' and ''kiss''.
Dr Kwan believes most of the suggested exercises have value.
''Teaching a young child the proper names of genitalia is all right because they are organs of the body and there is no point hiding it,'' she said.
''If children start asking questions about things like masturbation and wet dreams, then this would be an appropriate publication. This may be the right time for them to know, and I'm sure a responsible adult should try to explain, in the child's language, what it is.'' And Dr Kwan said she thought the book could help prevent teenage pregnancy through sex education at an early age.
The UK association stressed that the role of the family and loving relationships were covered by the book, but a spokesman added: ''Children are getting messages about sex on television, in songs and in the playground. It is better they find out about itin the classroom, rather than behind the bikesheds.''