Method: A community-based dataset on sexual knowledge and attitudes among 17 secondary schools in Hong Kong from 2016-2017 was used. Responses were students in 4th and 5th forms. Totally, 4,869 students participated: 2,504 (48.5%) girls and 2,363 (51.4%) boys from 14 to 18 years (M =16.23, SD = .876). The knowledge transfer process was evaluated by surveying adolescent motivation and acquisition in learning sex education knowledge was surveyed and information on secondary sexual characteristic development, sources of sex education, current level of knowledge, and general demographic and family composition factors.
Results: When defining sexual development, female students checked the following changes: breasts [2,310 (92.3%) with the onset at 11.52 years of age, SD= 1.44], menstruation [2,334 (93.2%)], and pubic hair growth [2,065 (82.5%)]. Male students checked the following changes: penile erection [1,944 (82.3%)], nocturnal emission [1,162 (49.2%)], and pubic hair growth [1,956 (82.8%)]. More than half of students preferred acquiring sexual health knowledge from the internet (54.7%) and sources in the school environment (50.58%), including teachers, classmates, activities in school settings, and textbooks. Paired t-test results reveal two interesting findings: (1) these youth had a significantly higher level of desirability in learning than their expressed need to learn (t (df=4,847) = 4.30, p<. 001); and (2) only 886 (18.2%) students became aware of their lack of knowledge after completing the survey; however, the difference was not significant when comparing their pretest and posttest scores of sexual development knowledge (t (df=4,777) = -2.46, p= .014).
Conclusion: Adolescents in Hong Kong tend to obtain sexual health knowledge from teachers and classmates. The internet and textbooks are two primary preferred autodidactic sources. There was a high motivation that these students would like to acquire sex education motivation in their school years. A youth-friendly self-assessment tool would serve as a channel to express their needs to receive formal sex education. Culturally and gender-sensitive instructions are crucial teaching tools to increase the effectiveness of sexual health education to evoke students’ learning interest and motivation to learn from formal sources. Training should include selecting topics of interest to students to foster a healthy and holistic learning environment.