NANJING, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Talking about sex is something that can be an uphill struggle in China, but Hu Jiawei, a 26-year-old educator, seeks to break the silence of sex education for children.
Sex is often a subject too intimidating or taboo for educators to address, due to the country's traditional reticence on the topic.
"What is terrifying is not sex nor sex education, but the public's wrong cognition," said Hu, co-founder of Baohudoudou, a sex education company based in the city of Wuxi, eastern China's Jiangsu Province.
The brainchildren of Hu's team -- from cute cartoons, puppet dramas and picture books to toys and interesting courses -- have imparted children secrets of life and sex-related knowledge and made Hu a rising star in the country's sex education field.
His three speech videos has been viewed online more than 1.5 million times, attracting 720,000 parents nationwide.
Hu and his team partner were included on Forbes China 2017 edition of its annual "30 Under 30 China" list, featuring young innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders who are challenging conventions and making an impact in the world.
Having studied food quality and safety, Hu never expected that he would devote himself to sex education. However, a two-day training course with the themes of contraception and prevention on sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS accidentally changed his mind eight years ago.
"I was kind of embarrassed, but the fun-filled contents and teaching method impressed me," Hu recalled. He set up a volunteer team to spread what he had learned to college students, and the team began to offer sex education to children from 2013.
No doubt, they had a tough start. His team called nearly every primary schools in Wuxi, willing to offer courses on sex education, but was rejected by most of them.
"They wouldn't even let us inside when schools heard the topic 'sex-ed', and few attended our free courses in schools and residential communities," he said.
It was not until 2014 that a school accepted the team's offer. What was more surprising was that the school's dean of students even praised their meaningful work in an email after the course.
For Hu, sex education includes education on gender, value, physiology, psychology as well as self-protection.
"Children can learn about the origin of life through the courses, the difference between boys and girls, how their bodies will change during adolescence, as well as how to seek help in the face of danger," he said.
A teacher once told him that boys in the class often stole girls' sanitary pads. In a course, Hu gave every pupil a sanitary pad to help them foster a positive attitude towards menstruation through an experiment.
"They found out why the pad can be so absorbent by pouring water on the top and cut it in the middle. They were not curious about or shy with sanitary pads anymore, and there were no more theft cases reported in the class," Hu said.
Chinese parents are attaching great importance to children's education, choosing prestigious schools and enrolling them in versatile after-school classes. However, sex education, which is equally important, is usually absent.
Nearly 30 percent of parents have never taught their children sex-related knowledge, and over half do not know how to teach. One in four parents squirming on the topic or thinking it unnecessary regard to the age of kids, according to a survey by the National Institute of Education Sciences.
But silence does not automatically translate to better protection. Children are curious about sex at a certain age. If they cannot get answers from parents or teachers, they may turn to the Internet, where they can be exposed to dangerous information.
Hence, Hu has also offered sex education training for parents to help them muster their courage and view sexuality in a scientific way.
Sex education, as a science of life, has no standard start age. Parents should teach their kids about sex starting at a young age, according to Hu.
Hu also launched some online and offline courses to train rural teachers and social workers in public welfare institutions in an attempt to provide children in rural China with professional sex education.
As the Chinese society attaches increasing importance to sex education for children, educators like Hu see more opportunities.
"We have the confidence to do better. My short-term goal is to help people not feel embarrassed when talking about sex to children in China," he said.