More On Sex Education In Europe

The Town Hall in Tartu. Thanks to Wikimedia (and user Flying Saucer) for the image.

Greetings from Tartu, Estonia! I’ll be living here for most of a year and continuing to blog for while working on my dissertation. While traveling through the Netherlands for a few days prior to coming to Estonia, I picked up some interesting facts about sex education there.

Longtime MSP readers will recall that I’ve written about attitudes toward teenagers having sex in the Netherlands (more laid back attitudes and lower teen pregnancy rates seem to correspond), contrasting European and American attitudes toward sex, and studies showing that abstinence-only sex education seems to correspond with higher teen pregnancy rates.

Naturally, while I was in the Netherlands, I took the opportunity to talk to people I met about their experiences of sex education, just to informally gather some information and see if it connected with studies I’ve been seeing online. I primarily hung out with students and other young-ish folks, and most of them remembered having sex education taught while in school. One girl recalled seeing a very comprehensive presentation about how intercourse and pregnancy occur, noting that at the time she was 8 years old, and it made sex seem gross. A guy told me about a teacher bringing in broomsticks so that students could learn to put on condoms. On the whole, the people I talked to recalled their sex education with clarity, and seemed to think it was appropriate to learn at the time, and that it had a positive impact on their understandings of sex today.

In related news, Spain has enacted more comprehensive programs to allow access to family planning and birth control, with the result that abortions have been declining in number. If these trends in Europe are any indication, providing better information about sex will help reduce unplanned and unwanted pregnancies… something the U.S. would benefit from, in my opinion.

Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist.

About Jeana


Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.