How Europe Proves That U.S. Sex Education Sucks

April 4th 2016

America may be a progressive nation in some ways, but when it comes to sex education, it's not as advanced as you might hope.

A recent ATTN: video explored this idea and found that only 22 states require sex education in public schools. By contrast, most European countries make sex education mandatory. The U.S. continues to struggle with mandating sex education across all states, while Europe finds new ways to provide its youth with comprehensive information about sex.

The Netherlands and Denmark are leading the way in sex education among nations of the industrialized world.

The Netherlands educates children as young as 4 about sex. This doesn't mean children have explicit conversations about the "birds and the bees." Rather, children learn how to form relationships and to discuss sexuality, according to PBS. The Dutch philosophy is to encourage respect for all sexual preferences and to help students develop skills to protect against sexual coercion, intimidation, and abuse.

Students with this kind of sex education were more assertive and better communicators, PBS reported.

Denmark has a comprehensive and effective sex education system.

Some students in Denmark learn about pornography in their sex education curriculum, the ATTN: video reported. This is legal, though Danish teachers debate the issue of showing porn in the classroom for educational purposes.

Nevertheless, Denmark's sex education system has been successful in preventing unwanted pregnancies and promoting safe sex practices. So much so that the nation's birth rate has fallen below the so-called replacement rate necessary to maintain the same level of population, according to The New York Times. As a result, the Danish government is encouraging people to reproduce at a younger age.

"For many, many years, we only talked about safe sex, how to prevent getting pregnant,” Marianne Lomholt, national director of Sex and Society, told The Times. “Suddenly we just thought, 'Maybe we should actually also tell them about how to get pregnant.'”

Abstinence is at the heart of U.S. sex education.

Abstinence-only sex education promotes no sex before marriage, and thus is less likely to cover any form of contraception. Among 18- and 19-year-olds, 41 percent know little or nothing about condoms, and 45 percent say they know nothing about contraception.

U.S. sex education infographicGuttmacher Institute -

But parents may be the reason the U.S. favors a less comprehensive sex education. A survey found that 90 percent of parents believe that teaching abstinence was the best for their child's health and future, according to National Abstinence Education Association. The survey also found that 59 percent of parents believed that government funding should support abstinence sex education over comprehensive sex education.

In the interim, the U.S. is paying for the lack of such information. And as this ATTN: video suggests, the U.S. has the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases and the highest rate of teenage pregnancies among all industrialized countries.

Watch the full ATTN: video about sex education in the U.S.

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