Relationship and Sex ed Programme for primary schools
Spring Fever is a Relationship and Sex ed programme tailored to the sexual development phases of children. It offers an age appropriate method of acquiring the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed. As a result, children are better prepared for any subsequent sexual contacts in later life. They also better understand relationships and sexual health.
By other countries it is also called ‘the Dutch approach’ which is characterised by the positive approach of sexuality and starting the discussion at an early age.
Spring Fever offers fun and responsible support in providing relationships and sexual health education. Schools that have given senior management support to the programme have noticed the benefits, not only to the children, but also the school itself. Teachers note that children are more open about relationships and sex and find it easier to correct their classmates if they demonstrate undesirable behaviour. There is less unease at school and fewer problems in the interaction between boys and girls. Evaluations show that the teachers have a positive opinion of the teaching package, thanks to its user-friendliness and the way in which the lessons are tailored to the children’s perspective and level of development. Furthermore, the children experience the lessons as instructive and fun. They also feel that the lessons are given at the right moment.
“There were societal concerns that sexualization in the media could be having a negative impact on kids,” van der Vlugt said. “We wanted to show that sexuality also has to do with respect, intimacy, and safety.”
By law, all primary school students in the Netherlands must receive some form of sexuality education. The system allows for flexibility in how it’s taught. But it must address certain core principles — among them, sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness.
The Dutch approach to sex ed has garnered international attention, largely because the Netherlands boasts some of the best outcomes when it comes to teen sexual health. On average, teens in the Netherlands do not have sex at an earlier age than those in other European countries or in the United States. Researchers found that among 12 to 25 year olds in the Netherlands, most say they had “wanted and fun” first sexual experiences. By comparison, 66 percent of sexually active American teens surveyed said they wished that they had waited longer to have sex for the first time. When they do have sex, a Rutgers study found that nine out of ten Dutch adolescents used contraceptives the first time, and World Health Organization data shows that Dutch teens are among the top users of the birth control pill. Read more in the PBS Newshour "The case for starting sex education in kindergarten" by Saskia de Melker.