We have plenty to learn from the Dutch sex-ed model.

Let’s start with a visualization exercise.

Can you imagine sending your 14-year-old daughter to school in which the teacher in one of her classes asks one of the following questions:

“How will you respond if your boyfriend refuses to put a condom on?”

“What do your friends think about condoms”?

“Write down their possible answers, and then check with your friends if you got their answers right.”

How is this visualization exercise going so far?

Does it make you uncomfortable? Are you okay with it?

These conversations are a part of the regular sex-ed curriculum in the Netherlands.

Stats About the Dutch Sex Ed You Should Keep in Mind

Dutch people have regularly been reported to have the lowest teenage pregnancy rate in the world and in Europe.

Contrary to what can be assumed, Dutch teenagers don’t get into sexual intercourse any earlier than their peers from other countries. 

dutch sex ed model condoms
Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay

Why Sex Education in Holland Is Remarkably Different than Other Countries?

Here are the eight top reasons why the Dutch sex ed is from another era:

1. The sex-ed program in the Netherlands is supported by the Dutch government.

Facing a realistic AIDS threat in the late eighties, the Dutch Foundation for STD Control developed a participatory package binding the teachers to become more explicit in sex education. This was done in consultation with churches, health practitioners, and organizations for family planning, 

2. Helps students decide about their personal sexual health.

Instead of a mandatory set of rules, the Dutch sex-ed model offers the students to develop a set of skills which they will use to make their own decisions.

3. Based on the fact that it is better to get sex ed than deny reality.

Dutch people understood the inevitability of such education and included a certain program even back in the mid-seventies. Although there isn’t a compulsory subject matter in class, almost all schools include sexual education in biology classes. Primary schools give due attention to sexuality and contraception.

4. The Dutch sex education model is all-inclusive.

It encompasses not only biological aspects of reproduction but also values and attitudes. It teaches about communication and negotiation skills. Some schools use the basic package while others support it with video materials and printed magazines.

5. The program is followed by a mass public campaign.

If the Dutch sex-ed lessons were limited only to classrooms, results would be partial. This is why the program included a campaign with popular public persons.

6. Accent on privacy protection.

Confidentiality, anonymity, and a non-judgemental approach are the basic pillars of the Dutch health system.

7. Pragmatic parental approach with a focus on children’s personal responsibility.

Dutch parents know that their children are going to have sex. They are ready to speak to them about this and prepare them to take responsibility for their behavior.

The teachers attend sex ed training.  It doesn’t mean that it is easy or simple for or them to talk to the students about these topics. But they still do it.

8. Awareness about the fact that talking about sex doesn’t mean giving their children “the wrong idea”.

No, talking about sex doesn’t mean encouraging unhealthy sexual behavior. Quite the opposite – it stimulates productive conversation. The Dutch sex-ed model critics are silenced when they read the stats about the sexual health and pregnancy rates for Dutch teenagers when compared to the rest of the world

The success of other models similar to the Dutch-based sex education speaks in its favor.

Any education model can be improved as we grow and learn like humans in an evolving society. Nonetheless, it is certain that Dutch sex-ed can be set as an example for many others. that lag behind.

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