Thursday, March 24, 2005

SEX Educate ME!

Surfing on the internet on the Sex Education subject (now you know what I do during my spare time), I found a comparison study between the English and the Dutch Sex Education approaches in the classroom (for 14 and 15 year olds).

The whole article was a fascinating read. To read it, just CLICK HERE.

The English and the Dutch are neighbors but culturally they are extremely lodged apart. The way I see it, the English are more conservative in matters of sex than the Dutch.

I have read before that the Dutch is at the bottom list, garnering one of the lowest score (rate between 8.4-4.1 to a 1000 birth rates) in teenage pregnancy in Europe whilst the English scored on top (rate of 40 to 1000 birth rates). Hence the Dutch-English stark comparisons.

Here are some of the contentious items I have found in the study. It said that Dutch sex education is similar to the English sex education, but the subject on both ends is approached differently.

“In the Netherlands, politicians have tended to pass the issue of sex education over to professional sex educators and to charge them with building consensus and developing programs.”

I guess almost everything here in NL is on a political level. The government always wants to puts its nose on every nook. A major consolation is having an “open-minded” Dutch society. However, foreign observers tend to mistake “openness” for “permissiveness”, which was also pointed out in the study.

“The Dutch policymakers have accepted that sex has become separate from marriage, that marriage has become increasingly separated from parenthood, and that teenagers are sexually active.

Traditionalists are reluctant to acknowledge these changes, therefore making them difficult to address many central issues.”

Umm, this one is quite profound. This is what I call “Dutch pragmatism” at its finest. I think the Clogheads have lesser emotions, they can often times dissect a situation without feeling attached to it by using what they call a helicopter viewpoint (something like birds eye view).

Sex also clearly doesn't equal to marriage nor is marriage to parenthood. More and more couples, married, registered partnership or living together in NL do not yearn to have children. The figures are rising alarmingly. My colleague at work is one of them (and maybe us, hehe).

“Dutch care courses aim to “normalize” sex education and embed it in courses that focus on everyday living. Sex education is thus found alongside nutrition and bicycle repair. Because the Dutch have no problem acknowledging teenage sexual activity, their sex education materials put considerably more emphasis on understanding how relationships progress.”

Typical and practical. I may have to salute these cheeseheads for accepting the real issue and looking at them in very simple ways. No -ifs and no -buts. I know for a fact that many people and cultures, consider this type of discussion and activity as a complex and controversial piece, but them Dutch sees it as simple as counting 1-2-3. The focus is not geared on “sex” in itself, but towards the discussions of “responsibility” and “intimacy”.

“The central aim of Dutch programs is described as promoting “self reliance” and “mutual respect” rather than “self-esteem”.”

Another typical Dutch attitude, which I agree, and in fact, I can relate. The average Dutch is very “independent” or “self-reliant” than the average Caucasian. The Dutch women I find to be made of strong metamorphic rocks. They behave like men, lol.

Alongside, I enjoy the “privacy” and “mutual respect” here in the flatlands. You can’t be bothered of malice if you want to bask topless under the sun during summer, in the beach or at home, in your garden. Not that I would do this quintessential trend... but...

Colorful condoms, hanging on the clothes line just like any piece of laundry. Which color would you prefer? Or size?

“Dutch care classes focused on getting pupils to decide what they want before hand, on when to say yes as well as how to say no, and on how to behave responsibly.”

Or must you focus on saying no always even if the urge is great?

I believe that kids should be treated like adults, they should be given the choice to decide what they want. No one should enforce them to abstain or to have sex, instead, kids should be taught to act responsibly, regardless of whatever decision they take. That is the learning and the experience.

Words of wisdom: Whatever is forbidden, is always strong desired... and many times, against all odds.

“Dutch pupils tended to say that sex education is not really something a school should do, which may reflect the much greater responsibility by Dutch parents in this regard. Certainly more Dutch pupils spoke positively about the possibilities of discussing sex with their parents.”

Ah, I would in all honesty like to hear a discussion between a Dutch mother and her 15 year old daughter on the use of condoms. I wonder if the Dutch mother will tell her daughter which flavor is best?! Strawberry please, oh no… let’s have Vanilla, much cheaper, haha.

“Dutch children also tended to attribute teenage pregnancy mostly to drunkenness, but spoke pf this as something that happened to other people, not themselves.”

Actually, based on a poll I read awhile back, many of the teenage pregnancy incidents are from foreign women with Suriname and Antillean backgrounds (Dutch colonies).

“Dutch students were asked when is it right to have a sexual relationship. The response was wide and sophisticated with answers such as, “telling each other everything”, “liking the person for who they are”, “supporting each other”, and “being able to live your own life as well as being in the relationship”…. against to the preconditions of “when it feels right”, “love”, “trust”, and “commitment” reasoning.”

Once more, Dutch pragmatism... Now, can anyone tell why Dutch men (and women) are rated very low in the romantic department?

And in this study, should they, in all likelihood, always observe seriousness and objectivity when in the throes of passion? Or when they enter into a relationship, sexual or not?

In closing, the study arrived to this conclusion...

“Sex education is so controversial in the UK (or in many countries), that it is only considered “safe” to be positive about sex in course that promotes abstinence.

Yet responses of many pupils indicate that they regard sex as something illicit and dirty and have little understanding or appreciation of healthy intimate relationships. The focus continues to be on "prevention" and "sex as danger”, whereas the Dutch manage to present sex in a much more normal and positive way.”

Now, I am really interested to sit in these Care classes, hehe.

If you are 21 years old and below, you can avail of free contraceptive pills in the Netherlands. They used to have these pills inclusive in the health insurance for women across different ages up until a few years ago. They stopped the freeloads and only teenagers can get them now for free.

Acknowledgments: Excerpts/quotes above are from the study of Dr. Jane Lewis – Professor of Social Policy at the University of Oxford (UK) and Dr. Trudie Knijn – Associate Professor at the University of Utrecht (NL) on the comparison of Dutch and English sex education in the classroom.


  1. Vert informative study to say the least.

  2. Anonymous11:38 am

    Informative. Why do you think the Dutch have a different perspective on things than the rest of the Europeans? They seem to tackle issues bluntly and frigidly.-JS

  3. Hehe, it's quite a coincidence that you post this now, since I just read an article in the paper about abortion, teen pregnancies and sexual education. I think it's quite common known that the UK has an attitude of keeping information from the people to prevent things from happening, and it's not working.

    Anyway, to comment on the Dutch sexual education system, I read in the paper that especially doctors from the south and the east of the country (the Netherlands I mean) don't have a clue of how many months in pregnancy abortion is still an option. Teachers also tend not to know about hormone-plasters and hormone-sticks you can put under the skin... To tell you the truth, I didn't know about these things either. I still remember being told several times in biology class how to put a condom on though... teacher made a demonstration on a broom stick, LOL!

    Anyway, sexual education is really important I think, especially since kids these days are into having sex, but not babies. Good article!

  4. Shirazi: Hi there. Thanks for dropping by! :-)

    JS: That is also a question that I am busy trying to understand. They really have a different mentality level and understanding of things, more so on unpopular issues.

    What I do see is the Dutch look at thinks in a simplified manner without any prejudice on race, religion, lifestyle, sex, and whatever other important factors than can be considered discrimination.

    I think that could be the basis of their thinking alongside with the insistence of mutual respect. But I have to say that not all Dutch are tolerant... and tolerance here in NL has a limit, and is bordered by rules. *surprise*!

    Elja: Oh my golly, I was laughing with the broom stick! LOL!

    I think that the UK would represent 90%-95% of the world's sentiment in this sex education study. I think well in my opinion, the Dutch and the Scandinavians are more mental in dealing with these sex issues. Even here in liberal Europe, sex discussion can still trigger some taboo effect, most especially when you go down south. I am pretty sure that other countries can relate to the English attitude with regard to saying "NO" aka "sex abstinence" as the best solution. These are usually propagated by christian and religious sects that has a big iron hand on the morals of the populace thus affecting government and school policies. The AIDs and sexual diseases also does not help... which again in my opinion is a cause of lack of education on the subject.


    Oh dear, I was just told by a friend that I shouldnt be discussing these things in my blog since its Holy Week? Olala, lol, I forgot. My apologies to the sensitive at heart and the ones observing this day and week!

  5. Landed in your site by following the Next Blog link. I, too, have covered
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  8. Anonymous6:34 pm

    It always helps to check several places. Like this one real estate law


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