Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sex, The Dutch Model

An Older Article Regarding Britain following The Netherlands' lead in teaching sex education.

In a nutshell, the article details the progressive stance the Netherlands (aka the Dutch) has taken regarding sex education and sex in general.  You can read the article yourselves, but a few high points:
  • Sex Education begins in Primary (Elementary) School.  We're talking real sex education answering actual questions that kids have, not just "girls have vaginas and boys have penises, the end."  (Note: I can confirm this fact).

  • “There is no point in telling children just to say ‘no' - this is a liberal country; you need to tell them why they are saying ‘no' and when to say ‘yes'. --- Dutch school headmaster Siebe Heutzepeter

  • At secondary school the sex education is formalized and children are shown how to use various types of contraceptive, how to have “safe and pleasurable sex”, the importance of responsibility and how to recognize the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases.

I should take this moment to point out that the Netherlands has among the lowest teen pregnancy rates, abortion rates, STD rates, and divorce rates in the world.  Let that sink in for a moment.  A country whose age of consent is 14, that teaches kids not only how to have safe sex, but how to have good sex beginning in part at the age of five, is currently whooping the world's ass when it comes to being sexually responsible.

Not that Kind of Ass Whooping

Let's contrast that with what I remember about my own sex-education, keeping in mind that I attended public school in conservative counties in a liberal state.
  • Fifth Grade - Guys and Girls Separated, Guys learn about Boners and how to Hide them (seriously that's what I remember most).

  • Sixth Grade - Guys and Girls Separated, both learn about different parts and about derogatory sexual terms.  CV learns what the words slut and whore mean.  Files them away for later use.

  • Tenth Grade - We learn about sex biologically.  Predictably, in biology class.  Waivers must be signed by parents.

  • Tenth Grade - Health Class, we learn about STDs and have a speaker on the importance of using condoms.  Waivers must be signed by parents.  The overall atmosphere is don't have sex or your penis will look like one of these slides.

Well that's...um...underwhelming.  Regrettably I don't remember any more specifics, or to what extent abstinence was pushed.  Sex is danced around and avoided so much it's ridiculous.  You won't find very many causes that I am more behind than more progressive sex education.  It's absurd how little Americans know about a biological process that 99% of people have on a regular basis.

 Pictured: The Worst Evil Ever!

Let's dance around this site for a little while.  Data from 2006, most of it copied and pasted from that site, with my thoughts following.
  • By their 18th birthday, six in 10 teenage women and more than five in 10 teenage men have had sexual intercourse.  (I've also read 80% of all teens by the age of 18, and 96% of all people by the age of 20, so the actual number is somewhere in there).

  • Of the approximately 750,000 teen pregnancies that occur each year, 82% are unintended. More than one-quarter end in abortion. 

  • Approximately 14% of the decline in teen pregnancy between 1995 and 2002 was due to teens’ delaying sex or having sex less often, while 86% was due to an increase in sexually experienced teens’ contraceptive use.

  • Despite the decline, the United States continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world—almost twice as high as those of England, Wales and Canada, and eight times as high as those of the Netherlands and Japan.

Okay, so we've established that teenagers have sex (shocker christians!).  And that sex results in pregnancy, which is often undesired amongst teenagers (gee, no shit).  And that the decline in unwanted pregnancies, and therefore the decline in abortions is due to better sex education, specifically regarding contraceptive use.  SEE THAT CHRISTIANS, YOU SHOULD WANT BETTER SEX EDUCATIONS BECAUSE IT RESULTS IN FEWER DEAD BABIES!  IN ADVOCATING ABSTINENCE ONLY SEX-ED, YOU ARE INDIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR DEAD BABIES!  HOW DOES THAT ONE FEEL?
Deep breath, now putting hard facts behind the stupidity.
  • By 2002, one-third of teens had not received any formal instruction about contraception.

  • More than one in five adolescents (21% of females and 24% of males) received abstinence education without receiving instruction about birth control in 2002, compared with 8–9% in 1995.  (This is one of the most fucking retarded things I've ever seen).

  • Between 1995 and 2002, the number of teens aged 15–17 who had ever engaged in sexual intercourse declined 10%.  (Your abstinence only sex-ed ISN'T FUCKING WORKING).

  • In 2002, only 62% of sexually experienced female teens had received instruction about contraception before they first had sex, compared with 72% in 1995.  (STOP KILLING BABIES, GOD DAMNIT)

  • In 1999, one in four sex education teachers taught abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy and STIs—a huge increase from 1988, when the fraction was just one in 50.  (ARGH!  WHY ARE WE GOING BACKWARDS?!)

  • More than nine in 10 teachers believe that students should be taught about contraception, but one in four are prohibited from doing so.

  • Eighty-two percent of adults support comprehensive sex education that teaches students about both abstinence and other methods of preventing pregnancy and STIs.  (And 18% are anti-abortion, but like watching babies die...apparently).

  • Currently, 35 states mandate either sex education or education about HIV/AIDS and other STIs, but their laws tend to be very general. Policies specifying the content of sex education are typically set at the local level.  (Only 35 fucking states, god damnit, what if only 35 states had to teach children basic hygeine?)

  • Eighty-six percent of the public school districts that have a policy to teach sex education require that abstinence be promoted. Some 35% require abstinence to be taught as the only option for unmarried people and either prohibit the discussion of contraception altogether or limit discussion to its ineffectiveness. The other 51% have a policy to teach abstinence as the preferred option for teens and permit discussion of contraception as an effective means of preventing pregnancy and STIs.
Yes, you're reading that right, 86% of schools promote a policy that amounts to willful ignorance.  Yes, 86% of schools think that the DUMBER you are about something, the BETTER OFF you will be.  How the fuck does this make any fucking sense to rational human beings?


You think that last photo is in jest?  Well fuck you.
  • There are three federal programs dedicated to funding restrictive abstinence-only education: Section 510 of the Social Security Act, the Adolescent Family Life Act’s teen pregnancy prevention component and Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE). The total funding for these programs is $176 million for FY 2006.  (I should note that CBAE started in 2000 and gave federal funds to local organizations that promoted Abstinence-only sex-ed.  Thankfully, 25 states refuse the funding because they are not FUCKING retarded).

  • Federal law establishes a stringent eight-point definition of “abstinence-only education” that requires programs to teach that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong and harmful—for people of any age. The law also prohibits programs from advocating contraceptive use or discussing contraceptive methods except to emphasize their failure rates.

  • There is currently no federal program dedicated to supporting comprehensive sex education that teaches young people about both abstinence and contraception.

  •  Despite years of evaluation in this area, there is no evidence to date that abstinence-only education delays teen sexual activity. Moreover, recent research shows that abstinence-only strategies may deter contraceptive use among sexually active teens, increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs.

  • Evidence shows that comprehensive sex education programs that provide information about both abstinence and contraception can help delay the onset of sexual activity among teens, reduce their number of sexual partners and increase contraceptive use when they become sexually active. These findings were underscored in “Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior,” issued by former Surgeon General David Satcher in June 2001.

Literally every piece of quantifiable data points to comprehensive sex education being beneficial in public schools.  Comprehensive sex education has been linked to a decrease in STIs, a decrease in teen pregnancies, and a decrease in teen abortions.  Furthermore, over 4/5ths of the country and 9/10ths of teachers support broader sex education.

And yet public schools everywhere skirt around the issue, or worse, teach abstinence only sex ed.  This is akin to giving a criminal a gun and just telling them not to use it.  It's pretty clear that a religious minority has hijacked our public schools and is responsible for a curriculum of sex education that runs contrary not only to the wishes of parents and educators, but contrary to the health of those it is supposed to benefit.

That's the kicker isn't it?  Those religious folks completely ignore the real goal, the benefit to their children, in favor of preserving some sense of morality within themselves.  They fear that in educating kids about sex, they are promoting an immoral lifestyle, when in reality they are simply giving them the tools to make good choices.

What is a parent's worst fear?  That their child will be harmed by having sex too early.  Studies place the average age of a loss of virginity in the United States between 16 and 17 years old, below the age of consent in many states.  In the Netherlands the average age of one's first sexual encounter is 17.7, a clear indication that knowledge doesn't corrupt, rather it encourages good decisions.  How are you supposed to make a conscious decision not to have sex if you don't know anything about it?

I'm a 23 year old male.  I've had five girlfriends starting when I was 17.  As you can tell by reading this blog, I am one of the most well read and well informed individuals when it comes to sex.  I've studied the findings of Alfred Kinsey, William Masters, Virginia Johnson, and learned from Sue Johansson.  I have an avid interest in the BDSM community.  Suffice it to say, I know a lot.

I'm also very open about sex.  I have no problem having a discussion about bondage, power exchange, pornography, masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, even homosexual sex, as many of my friends would attest.  I go by the moniker "Criminally Vu1gar" and could probably be described as a sexual deviant.

I also didn't lose my virginity until I was 21 years old and have only had sex with one girl.  I believe that abstinence is stupid, but that love is an essential part of sex.  I don't do hookups, friends with benefits, or fuck buddies.

The religious right can fight physiology and biology all it wants, and it will lose every single time.  Teenagers have the parts, and they have the desire.  No amount of IMitS (Invisible Man in the Sky) can take that away.  If the prevailing attitude continues to be a fear of knowledge, then the problems I have mentioned will remain exactly that, problems, and the rest of us will continue to be held hostage by their illogical and downright asinine beliefs.

And that is just sad.

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