“People often think we are starting right away to talk about sexual intercourse [with kindergartners]. Sexuality is so much more than that. It’s also about self image, developing your own identity, gender roles, and it’s about learning to express yourself, your wishes and your boundaries.” – Ineke van der Vlugt, an expert on youth sexual development for Rutgers WPF, the Dutch sexuality research institute and the organization behind Netherlands sex education curriculum.
Did you know that the Netherlands has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world? Did you know that the majority of teens in the Netherlands say their first sexual experiences were “wanted” and “fun?” It could be because by law, all primary school students in the Netherlands must receive some form of “sexuality education.” It’s not called “sex” education, because the idea is bigger thank that, according to der Vlugt. The idea here is to have open and honest conversations about relationships and love.
A 2008 United Nations report found that comprehensive sex ed allows young people to “explore their attitudes and values, and to practice the decision-making and other life skills they will need to be able to make informed choices about their sexual lives.” (source)
According to the report that was done by PBS news:
“The system allows for flexibility in how it’s taught. But it must address certain core principles – among them, sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness. That means encouraging respect for all sexual preferences and helping students develop skills to protect against sexual coercion, intimidation and abuse. The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject.” (source)
The results of this type of program seem to speak for itself. When it comes to teen sexual health, on average, teenagers in the Netherlands do not have sex at an earlier age compared to other European countries or in the United States. Also, as mentioned earlier, teen sexual encounters in the Netherlands are “wanted” and fun” whereas in the United states, 66 percent of sexually active teens surveyed said they wished they had waited longer to have sex for the first time. Another study found that when teens in the Netherlands do actually have sex, approximately 90 percent of them use protection of some form. Teen pregnancy rates in the Netherlands are some of the lowest in world, and so are rates of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases. (source)