Dutch teens dissatisfied with sex-ed lessons at school

Pupils raising their hands in class
Pupils raising their hands in classPhoto: ArturVerkhovetskiy/DepositPhotos

Teenagers in the Netherlands are dissatisfied with the sex education they receive at school, giving their sexual education classes an average score of 5.8, according to a study by Rutgers and Soa Aids Nederland. Dutch pupils would like more information about homosexuality and sexual diversity, as well as on how to treat each other in a relationship or during sex, the researchers found, Trouw reports.

Knowledge center Rutgers asked seventeen young researchers to speak to a total of 300 pupils about the sexual education they receive at school. The researchers found that Dutch pupils find sexual education important, but the current program too limited. Remarkably, not a single teen spoken to thought sexual education superfluous.

Sex-ed lessons are currently mainly given in the upper classes of primary school and in the lower classes of secondary school. But pupils feel the need of a "refresher course" later in secondary education, according to co-researcher 19-year-old Izy Dekker. "In the lower classes, pupils want factual information about the anatomy and practical aspects of sex", she said to the newspaper. "In the upper classes there is a need for repetition and more information about the social and relational aspects." 

Many pupils only become sexually active after the sexual education lessons have run their course. It is important that pupils can ask questions then too, according to the researchers. Now, in the search for information, teenagers often come into contact with pornographic websites. 41 percent of boys between the ages of 12 and 14 have come into contact with porn, and 7 percent of girls in that age group. "Sexual education is needed to educate students. If porn is your only source, you'll have the wrong idea of the truth", Dekker said.

On Thursday teachers will maker recommendations to Minister Arie Slob for Primary and Secondary Education on how the curriculum can be updated. That is an excellent opportunity to also improve the sexual education lessons, Rutgers said in a letter to the Minister.