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Sex education cartoon an instant online hit

2013-11-07 09:43 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

A cartoon series answering the question "where do I come from?" became an instant online hit this week, breaking a Chinese taboo of educating youngsters about the birds and the bees.

The three-part series, each lasting one minute, uses humor to describe where babies come from, why boys and girls are different and how to prevent sexual assaults, topics which many parents try to avoid.

The cartoon, which was made by Nutcracker Studios, tells children "they were not picked up at a garbage dump," a typical jokey reply given by many Chinese parents.

The narrator says babies are conceived by "a combination of sperm and eggs" and compares the process to an injection.

The cartoons can be viewed on a number of Chinese websites, with many netizens applauding this different way of educating youngsters about sex. However, some Internet users pointed out that children would still find it difficult to understand.

Sex education among children remains controversial in the country and people often blush when sex is publicly mentioned in Confucius culture-dominated China.

However, the topic has attracted attention after a series of molestation scandals against children, which prompted Zhao Yilong, creator of the cartoon, to make the series.

"Children are curious about sex, so we wanted to explain it clearly in a cartoon," Zhao said, adding that Chinese children get little access to sex education and their parents are also at a loss about it.

The series explains a not quite interesting topic in a humorous way, said Zhao Yue of Guokr.com, a popular science website that funded Zhao's project.

A survey released in June and conducted by Beijing News and an NGO, the Maple Women's Psychological Counseling Center, showed that only 37.9 percent of parents had educated their children about private parts which no one else can touch. The questionnaire was completed in written form by 107 children aged between 6 and 14, and more than 1,100 parents via the Internet.

Liu Wenli, who leads a research group on children's sex education in Beijing Normal University, said the instant popularity of the "innovative" cartoon reflects the scarcity of high-quality sex education material in China.

"The Internet has become an effective tool for sex education but it cannot replace the roles of parents and schools," Liu said.

As a trailblazer, Zhao Yilong said he hoped the cartoon series will help more adults and give them ideas to answer their children's sex-related questions.

Zhao's team plans more cartoons about sex, including risks and worries about sex in adolescence and adulthood.

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