The power of youth culture and anonymity in China

“In 2018 the Journey4Life was implemented in China for the first time. 500 young people from 5 cities in 2 provinces went through the 12 encounters, and China Family Planning Association (CFPA) completed a comprehensive evaluation of the results. The effect of the Anonymous Box, a small practice in the Journey4life, surprised us.

The anonymous box is where young people can drop all the questions they are curious about but don’t feel comfortable raising. Chinese young people are generally more used to accepting than to inquiring.

Champions4Life (peer facilitators) in Luohu District, Shenzhen, upgraded the anonymous box used in the Journey4Life to an “airdrop box” (left), familiar to young people because of the hit game PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds. They were stunned by the number of questions coming in every day.

A note with the reflection question “Am I forming new ideas?” appeared in the anonymous box of Hengli Middle School in Dongguan. Li Jie, the local Champion4Life responded to that question during one of the encounters: “Opening up to new ideas can help you become a better version of yourself, but don’t let yourself be forced into being someone you are not.”

Another second-year boy shared his feelings in the anonymous box in a school in Wuhan: “I am looking forward to the weekly (Journey4life) activities; here I can talk to the girls in the class freely.” A gender gap is still very common in middle schools in China. Due to peer pressure and shyness, boys and girls are not comfortable talking to each other. The Journey4life helps them to understand each other better.

The effects of using the anonymous box is just one highlight of the Journey4Life implementation in China so far. The evaluation shows that young people who went through the Journey4Life have more SRH knowledge and more gender-equal attitudes. And as Ou Shuzhen, a Champion4Life in Dongguan said: “Even when you don’t see anything changing right at this moment, we have planted the seeds for the future.”

Ai Min
Project Assistant China Family Planning Association (CFPA)
Member Board of Franchisees