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China Daily Website

Classes urged to prevent sexual assaults

Updated: 2013-09-24 23:43
By Jin Zhu ( China Daily)

Timely reporting, job screening to be implemented

Education departments and schools across the country have been urged to add education on sexual assault prevention to classes, as part of government efforts to prevent more children falling victim to molesters.

Several government departments, including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Public Security, issued a notice on Tuesday, vowing to address the problem after a string of scandals in which students were sexually molested.

The notice asked schools to prepare students, especially girls and left-behind children in rural areas, and their parents with knowledge about what constitutes sexual assault, how to prevent such assaults and how to seek help if they happen.

Education departments were also asked to establish a reporting mechanism under which schools report child sexual assault cases in a timely manner to their superiors while protecting students' privacy and offering psychological guidance and other support to victims.

Local educational branches will make regular efforts to screen for potential hazards, especially the qualifications of teachers and school employees. Those with criminal records or mental health histories are banned from working in schools, the notice said.

The move is in response to recent child sexual assaults, which brought the protection of children into the spotlight.

In May, a primary school headmaster and a government employee in Wanning, Hainan province, were detained by police for allegedly sexually assaulting six female students.

In June, a school principal was sentenced to 18 years in jail for raping and molesting girls in Qianshan county in Anhui province.

A junior high school teacher in Hefeng county, Hubei province, was also detained in September for allegedly having sex with at least eight female students.

As shown in such cases, many children have no idea of how to deal with such assaults and some parents handled the matter themselves and did not dare to call the police.

Zhang Meimei, director of the Capital Normal University's sex education research center, said, "Many such cases can be prevented if parents educate their children about how to prevent sexual assaults in advance."

However, compared with families in the United States and some European countries, Chinese parents are far behind in educating children on self-protection from sexual behavior, she said.

Zhang's team has worked to develop sexual education courses for parents in schools in Beijing.

"Many parents themselves received no such education when they were kids, therefore, they have no idea of how to educate their children now," she said.

A primary school teacher in Haidian district in Beijing, who refused to provide his name, said there is no special course on sexual education for students or parents at his school.

"Some teachers in charge of classes may have taught some related knowledge to their students in class, but with no systematic course arrangement," he said.

Educating children on sexual protection actually should start as early as when they are 2 or 3 years old, Zhang said.

A mother surnamed Zhou in Shanghai, who has a 3-year-old boy, said educating children on self-protection has become a new concern for parents around her.

"Children always have a strong ability for imitation. Therefore, I educated my boy that he should act as an adult and any exposure of his private parts is not allowed outside our home or in front of other people except Mom and Dad," she said.

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