Third of parents shied off talking about sex photos

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am

One in three parents did not discuss the nude photos scandal involving actor Edison Chen Koon-hei with their children because they felt it would be embarrassing, a survey by a parents' group has shown.

The survey of 190 parents, released this week, was conducted by the Hong Kong Alliance of Parents Association between February 19 and March 13. It asked parents how they responded to their children while the photos saga unfolded.

The scandal involved hundreds of nude and sexually explicit photos of Chen and a number of high-profile female celebrities widely circulated on the internet since late January.

Female stars implicated in the scandal included Twins duo star Gillian Chung Yan-tung, Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi, Bobo Chan Man-woon and Rachel Ngan Wing-sze.

The scandal sparked frenzied media attention, dominating the front pages of local newspapers and magazines for three weeks.

More than 70 per cent of parents interviewed said they had discussed the popular actor-singer's scandal with their children. The remaining 30 per cent, however, said they had not done so because they felt it too embarrassing.

Even among those who discussed sex with their children, 30 per cent of parents surveyed said they felt uneasy talking about it.

The alliance also polled 1,543 secondary students. More than half - 53 per cent - said they had seen the celebrity nude photos. Of those, 30 per cent cited peer pressure as a motivation to browse the pictures, and 34 per cent cited media coverage.

Only 8 per cent said they looked at them after their family had discussed the incident with them.

Alliance chairwoman Chan Siu-chu said parents considered discussion of sex a taboo and feared that explaining the particulars of the nude pictures would cause an embarrassing situation.

Also some parents, especially women over 40 years old, were more conservative about sex and did not have enough knowledge of the internet, Ms Chan said.

'For the older parents, they are usually more conservative, morally, and have no way of keeping abreast with the fast changes in society and in cyberspace,' she said.

'Some parents just simply told their children the incident was 'outrageous' without going further and discussing it with them.'

Ms Chan said controversy over the incident was not confined to the photo-taking.

'There are other things young people should learn more about, such as the limits of internet freedom and how to respect others' privacy.'

She said some parents were lax in teaching their children sex knowledge and relied on schools because they thought that was where the responsibility lay.

'How can you outsource family education?' she said. 'It is necessary for parents to acknowledge the importance of home education and work with schools and teachers if their children are to have adequate sex knowledge.'

Ms Chan suggested that parents who found it difficult to discuss sex with their children should actively seek ways to close the 'communication gap', such as keeping themselves updated on internet developments and attending free seminars on sex education at community centres.

She added that the photo scandal had given parents a chance for discussion with their children, and that parents should take an open attitude.