KUALA LUMPUR – A primary school in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan recently handed out questionnaire to students on some sensitive health questions quite similar to those posed to VD patients at government clinics.
When contacted by Sin Chew Daily, a health ministry official confirmed that the ministry had not conducted any sex behavior survey on primary school students.
“That is supposed to be a questionnaire for patients seeking VD treatment because most of them may feel embarrassed having to disclose their sex behaviors verbally to the doctors. The questionnaire is aimed at getting a better picture of the patients’ sex behaviors while facilitating a diagnosis of their conditions.”
Investigation under way
The official said the health ministry is working closely with the education ministry to find out why and how the forms have been distributed to primary school students.
When asked about some of the questions that do not seem to have any direct association with venereal diseases such as “I have read pornographic materials,” the official said these questions could have been added by the people drafting the questions in order to find out whether primary school students have access to such materials.
“Most of these questions are quite similar to those posed to patients at hospitals. We do not rule out the possibility of some omissions or additions to the original content. As the case is still under investigation, we are not able to make any conclusion as yet.”
He said indeed the survey is inappropriate and should not be distributed to primary school students as many of them might not know how to answer the questions.
When contacted, Xin Xue Hui Centre (Malaysia) honorary chairman told Sin Chew Daily it is acceptable if questions on physiological knowledge such as genitalia and menstruation are posed to the students, but questions on sex activities are simply inappropriate for primary school students.
He said if the objective of the survey has been to find out whether there is any inflammation on the genitalia or whether the foreskin is too long, there is generally not much problem with the questions.
It is understandable if the students are asked whether they have read pornographic materials or have started masturbating because this will help us understand when young people start doing this and whether education on this area should be provided.
“This is part of the growing process the students have to go through. Perhaps the questions were designed to find out more about the physiological conditions of the students so that appropriate sex education can be provided.”
Some questions inappropriate
As for other questions such as whether the students have had intimate relationships with people of the same sex and whether condoms have been used during sexual intercourse, these are simply not suitable for primary school students.
“Such questions are not necessary if the objective is only to find out about the students’ physical health.”
Normally sex surveys on primary school students should be confined to the physiological part while questions on sexual behaviors should be targeted to older students.
He also proposed that if the survey was intended to find out whether primary school students in Malaysia have had sex, then it should be conducted in a random manner after seeking the consent from the students, parents and the education department.
“The students must be briefed by a counselor or teacher, and the feedback must be treated in strict confidentiality.”
He said even in a street survey, the respondents must remain anonymous and the answers must not be revealed on the spot. These are some of the moral principles that the surveyors must conform to.
If the surveyors have insisted to conduct the study, they must allow the students to have the free will to choose whether they want to answer some of the more sensitive questions. – mysinchew