The sex-education system in the Netherlands is approached differently than that in the US. The Netherlands has a far better approach to sex-ed for their kids and teens because their sex-ed is quite comprehensive and is being regarded as mandatory in the primary school. This is the reason why Netherlands have a lowest teen pregnancy rate in the world compared to the other countries especially US, UK, and New Zealand.
The Dutch Approach to Sex-Ed
The Dutch have an entirely different attitude toward sex that puts an emphasis on teaching children as young as four years old about sex being all about love and relationships, both with others and with themselves. When they teach the young kids about sex, their sole focus is on sexuality, relationships, appropriate and inappropriate touching as well as intimacy. They also go on to claim that sex can actually be fun – a notion that would be shocking for the US education system.
Their ultimate goal is to teach children thoroughly about all the things pertaining to sex early in life so they make reasonable judgments and have thoughtful conversations about sexual abuse, safe sex, sexual identity, contraception, and reproduction before stepping into their teen years.
Under the Dutch education system, children learn about self-image and various gender stereotypes when they turn eight years old. On the other hand, as soon as they turn eleven years old, they happen to learn about sexual identity and contraception.
Discussing sexuality and relationships with children at an early age in an open and comfortable environment renders it an entirely normal topic. When these discussions are considered crucial in political circles of the Netherlands and particularly by the Ministry of Education. We are inclined to think that if you raise the subject of sex education then you might encourage children to start having sex at an early age. However, this is not the case at all. In fact, their knowledge about it actually makes them wait a little longer as sex is no longer such a big deal.
Dutch teens are also being taught about sexual abuse and how they can protect themselves against it. They are taught how to say no to someone when they do not like some behavior or they think it is unacceptable to them. Similarly, they are also taught to stop someone when they change their mind in the course of an act. Their sex-ed classes teach them to respect others’ boundaries and the importance of consent. Once they understand the concept of giving their consent to another, they only have sex when they are ready for it and act responsibly in terms of contraception and respect for their partner.
On the other hand, they are also informed about contraceptives and how they can use them. For the same reason, Netherlands has some of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world as well as low rates of STDs.
How Americans’ Approach to Sex-Ed Fails
Looking at how Americans approach sex-ed in their school system, we came to learn that only twenty-four states and the District of Columbia mandate sex-ed and thirty-four states mandate HIV education.
In the US, teen pregnancy rates have been recorded as the highest, almost 8 times higher than that in the Netherlands. Similarly, STD rates have also increased compared to the Netherlands. Nearly seventy percent of American teens reported wishing they’d waited longer to have sex for the first time. As per Planned Parenthood, when female and male teens were asked whether they had prior knowledge about birth control while they were having sex for the first time, the majority replied ‘No.’
The US sex-ed system majorly focuses on abstinence from sex, which promotes silence among young people wanting to learn more about abuse and safe sex. Seventy-six percent of US high schools teach abstinence from sex to prevent pregnancy and STDs while only thirty-five percent teach students how to use a condom properly.
Plus, the sex-ed system in the US schools is such that parents can choose to remove their child from the class in an attempt to keep them away from approaching subjects related to sex. The only reason for the US having the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STDs is that it follows a laidback approach to sex-ed in their schools.
If only Americans learn something from the Dutch sex-ed system, they’d make lives much easier for their children and teens. Educating children on all topics related to sex, including homosexual relationships is quite important so they can have a sense of sexual identity while they’re young and can make better decisions as they grow older.