Sexual attitudes
Young people have more liberal
views on sex than a decade ago

By Wong Yuen Kwan

P re-marital sex is now more common than 10 years ago.

Social workers agree that a youth subculture characterized by consumerism, the pursuit of excitement and freely-expressed romanticism is spreading quickly.

In the Working Report on Adolescent Sexuality Study 1986, done by The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, youngsters showed a rather conservative attitude.

Of 500 interviewees, 65 percent thought sexual intercourse should not be mainly for pleasure.

Only about half of the respondents had already started dating.

Less than 4 percent admitted to having pre-marital sex, and 65 percent had used condoms.

The data showed that 63 percent thought AIDS was a threat to the community.

Following the 1986 survey, the Tertiary Institutions Health Care Working Group of the Hong Kong Students Service Association did a similar survey in 1991.

According to the 1991 survey, 3.5 percent of male respondents and 1.4 percent of the female respondents had had pre-merital sex.

Within this group, 70.2 percent had their first sexual intercourse when they were 16 to 20, and 25.4 percent had intercourse once or more per week.

In 1995, the Hong Kong AIDS Foundation have did a survey on adolescents' sexual attitudes and behaviors. It reveals a more open attitude about pre-marital sex, abortion and AIDS. Of the 1,948 responses, 32.7 percent indicated acceptance of pre-marital sex.

Moreover, 30.7 percent of interviewees responded positively when asked about having sex with partners on request. In addition, 75.4 percent respondents reckoned that condoms should be used, significantly more than in the 1991 survey.

There is a tendency for young adults to have sex at an earlier age.

Comparing to the findings of the survey 10 years ago, pre-marital sex is more common. Abortion is more acceptable, and many of them are having more sexual partners.

As a result, schools have to play an important role in educating youths about sex. Most secondary schools in Hong Kong are starting to teach students about sex. They arrange sex education talks and seminars for students.

Said a teacher at Good Hope College: "We do not have any planned programs, but we are trying to organize more chances for the students to learn."

Some schools have organized talks to teach students about sex.

However, some students said the talks "don't help much".

Miss Amy Wong, a secondary school student, said, "I get knowledge about sex mostly from the media."

Miss Shirley Tam, another secondary school student, agreed.

She said, "My friends and I rely heavily on the media for sex knowledge. We do not get such kinds of knowledge from schools, which are too conservative."

In universities, sex education is mainly provided though student health clinics.

Said Mrs. Pauline Kan, the health education officier of the university health service at The Chinese University of Hong Kong: "Students usually regard this place as a last resort for advice. They come with problems that nobody else can help them with.

"The most common problems they have are dating, pregnancy, abortion and birth control methods.

"We try to emphasize moral sexual values and responsible behaviors," Miss Kan continued.

"They all have received tertiary education and are above 18 years old. They are responsible for their own behavior."

She stressed that sex education in the universities is a passive activity and students are free to choose what they want to do.

Concerning the effectiveness of sex education in Hong Kong, Mrs. Kan comments, "It is still conservative because of the influence of Confucianism.

"In the U.S., students can obtain condoms everywhere on the campuses."

January 1997

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