The Netherlands is often recognized for its approach to adolescent sexual health, noted by the country’s low rates of teen pregnancy and high contraceptive use among young people. In the field, many researches have concluded that comprehensive sexuality education is one of the key factors contributing to the positive sexual health outcomes in The Netherlands, but few studies have looked at how Dutch sex education policy is translated into action. This article presents a comparison of sexual health outcomes of young people in The Netherlands and the United States using the latest available data. (Article published in 2014)
This research is the results of a content analysis of sexuality education materials in The Netherlands and a case study of a widely used Dutch high school sexuality program.The study methods consisted of a comparison of recent sexual health outcome data in The Netherlands and the United States, content analysis of current Dutch sexuality materials, and a case study of a national high school sexuality education program. The content analysis of sexuality educational materials is complemented by a case study of Long Live Love, a widely used, government-funded sexuality education program for high school students in The Netherlands.
Finally, this study has investigated how Dutch acceptance of adolescent sexuality manifests itself in materials and programs by providing specific examples of the prominent themes and messages in Dutch sexuality education. Sexuality materials that emerge from The Netherlands are characterized by consistent, relationship-oriented messages about sexuality, safe sex, and contraceptives. Although sexuality education in The Netherlands is still primarily focused on reducing risky sexual behavior, topics are presented in a positive light, thereby normalizing sexual feelings rather than inducing fear and shame in young people. What are often considered taboo or sensitive topics, such as sexual orientation and masturbation, are common themes in Dutch materials. The Netherlands is an example of a country that takes a more positive approach to sexuality education, and likewise has achieved noteworthy sexual health outcomes. It does not mean that sexuality education is flawless in The Netherlands, so there are big responsibilities on public health practitioners, sex educators, teachers, policy-makers and others.