When looking at the part-time jobs notices posted near the canteen of Beijing Union University, Kang Jia, 22, avoids being seen by others.
“Many of the ads are about abortions. It would be very embarrassing if somebody thought I was looking for an abortion,” she said.
According to the results of a recent survey by China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, more than 13 million abortions are conducted in China every year. More than 50 percent are for females under the age of 25.
“The majority of those who get abortions are college students,” said the commission’s report.
An increasing number of young Chinese people are adopting a more casual attitude toward sexual relationships. But the absence of sex education on campus can lead to various problems among college students. Experts say it is vital to inform students about sex, not only for the sake of their personal health but also for the sake of the wider society.
According to Yang Xiong, a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, one reason for this trend is that China’s economic development has led to a gradual easing of moral standards in society.
“Another reason is that young Chinese people can now easily access information relating to sex on the Internet,” said Yang.
At the same time, the popularity of GPS-based mobile applications has made it very easy for young Chinese to meet up for casual sex, reported The Daily Beast, earlier this year.
Increasingly permissive attitudes toward sex in China have led to a record number of unwanted pregnancies in the country. Statistics show that increasing numbers of Chinese teenage girls are getting pregnant due to a lack of sex education, reported Shanghai Daily last year.
“We are usually busiest two to three months after the summer vacation and other festivals such as Valentine’s Day,” Zhang Zhenrong, director of Shanghai’s only hotline for pregnant girls, told the newspaper. “Sometimes we receive almost 1,000 phone calls a day from teenagers.”
According to Xia Xueluan, a sociologist at Peking University, a lack of sex education reaches beyond health issues, such as STDs and HIV, and causes social problems too.
“Sex education is supposed to teach students that sex is not entertainment or even a game, but more about responsibility and integrity, both socially and individually,” Xia said. “Wrong attitudes toward relationships cause high divorce rates, which also have a negative impact on society.”
According to Kang Jia, it has become common for college student couples to live together in a rented apartment.
“Some student couples live just like a husband and wife, especially juniors and seniors,” said Kang. “But usually those who live together have bad grades in school.”