Sex education: why the British should go Dutch

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Britain's Schools Minister plans to introduce sex lessons for five-year-olds. They already have them in the Netherlands. Is that why they also have the lowest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe? The children of De Burght School in Amsterdam walk past the red-light district to their classrooms every day, past the "Peep Shows, Live Girls," the risqué underwear shops and the newsagents selling teen magazines with free condoms. At school the five-year-olds play mummies and daddies in the playground knowing what their parents did in bed last night.

Next year, 12-year-old Sasha explains to me, they will learn how to put a condom on a broomstick (she says this without a trace of embarrassment, just a polite smile). Across the city, nine-year-old Marcus, who lives in a beautiful 18th-century house on a canal, has been watching a cartoon showing him how to masturbate. His sister, 11, has been writing an essay on reproduction and knows that it is legal for two consenting 12-year-olds to make love. Her favourite magazine, Girls, gives advice on techniques in bed, and her parents sometimes allow her to stay up to see a baby being born on the birthing channel. Then there is Yuri, 16, who explains to me in perfect English that "anal sex hurts at the beginning but if you persevere it can be very pleasurable". When I ask whether he is gay, he says "no" but he has watched a documentary on the subject with his parents.

source: Article 'Sex education: why the British should go Dutch' by Alice Thomson; women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article5208865.ece; Times Online; 24 November 2008