Most parents do not know enough about sex to teach their children the facts of life, a survey has found. Among the questions parents got wrong were whether masturbation was bad for the health and whether castration affected a man's sexual ability. Most parents said yes to the first and no to the second. The poll, carried out by the division of social studies at City University, asked 500 parents 21 questions. None was able to give correct answers to all the questions. The best score was 17, and half those surveyed could correctly answer only nine questions. The research aimed to gauge the attitude of parents towards sex education. Most knew it was dangerous to have an abortion after four months of pregnancy and that having sex with a girl under 15, even with her consent, was illegal. Social studies division head Agnes Yeung Law Koon-chui, who conducted the research, said she was surprised at how uninformed most parents were. 'It is quite surprising. These people are not young, they are experienced and they have been married for some time, 10 to 20 years.' More than half the respondents said they learned about sex from magazines or their spouses. 'This generation seems to lack formal sex education so it makes them feel incompetent or uncomfortable on matters relating to sex and in discussing it with their children,' Mrs Yeung said. The Hong Kong Family Planning Association and the Hong Kong Welfare Society run sex education seminars for parents. Tik Chi-yuen, chairman of the Committee on Home-School Co-operation, said social values had to change to broaden parents' attitudes. 'In Chinese society, it is still embarrassing to talk about sex matters but we must talk at home or children will get negative information from outside sources. We still believe that Hong Kong parents are not open-minded enough,' he said. The survey also revealed parents believe sex education should begin at age 12 or younger, or at the senior primary level. Sixty per cent of those surveyed believed teachers should be responsible for sex education, and 67 per cent said parents as well as teachers should be responsible. The study was commissioned by the Home-School Co-operation Unit of the Education Department and will be used to revise sex education guidelines for the next school year.