World Lens, Edition 43
“Lang Leve de Liefda” in the Land of Windmill
by: Anis Fachrotul Fuadah
The jargon about “the future of a nation is in the hand of young people” sounds familiar to us. Most countries in the world believe in this. This is shown by commitment, especially some developed countries, to manifest it by providing a good education system, a supportive environment, and expand creative space for young people. Even, things that are considered less important, like sexual and reproductive health education for teenagers.
Many people still see it as a taboo. The sexual and reproductive health education is perceived to be misleading teenagers to free sex and permissive behavior. Meanwhile, several developed countries which have implemented this are proven to be able to support young generation regarding health and morality. Some developed countries which are open to sex education consider this important because they understand the fact their countries will progress faster if their young generations are aware of the impacts of unhealthy sex behavior such as early age pregnancy and so on.
Take example of Netherlands, which have implemented sexual and reproductive health education in schools since 1980s. The program Lang Leve de Liefda (Long Live Love) was even appreciated by UNESCO so the term Dutch Model for sex education is established. It means, there are lots of countries in the world refer to Dutch Model in regard to sex education implementation.
Sex Education Begins from School
Although there is not yet a mandatory legal framework as basis for sex education, Lang Leve de Liefda is already applied in Netherlands. Since age of five years old, children in Netherlands have been provided with sexual and reproductive health education. The Bureau of Sex Information of Netherlands, Rutger Nisso, collaborates with the Netherlands Department of Health develops the sex education package for children of Kindergarten and Elementary School. Of course, the content of education package is customized according to their age. Among 7000 kindergarten and elementary schools in Netherlands, one of them has applied this education, most of junior and senior high schools have thoroughly implemented this sex education. Besides biological aspect, it also discusses other elements which are more important for teenagers in regard to sexuality, such as humanitarian values, communication, decision making and negotiation skills.
The Netherlands’ government is also very supportive with Lang Leve de Liefda program by organizing researches on family planning, including sex education. School books are also revised and redesigned in order to have more comprehensive approach related to sexuality. Other program implemented outside school is also developed by covering this issue in teenagers’ or public service. After all, parents are also actively involved in discussing this issue with their children since their early age so they will be more responsible with themselves and not looking for information in other places which are not yet suitable and credible.
The social organizations also participate in providing trainings for teachers and supporting materials. The media plays role in delivering correct information associated with sex and reproductive health by organizing talk-show events, campaigns through publicity, and discussion on sexuality with famous celebrities.
The collaboration with all related parties (government, parents, social organizations and media) in developing Lang Leve de Liefda has brought a stunning result; the teenagers’ pregnancy rate in Netherlands is the lowest in Europe, as little as 8,4/1000 compared to UK which is still at rate of 63/1000. What makes it more interesting, the age of first sexual intercourse among teenagers is getting older, they are aware of having sex at an early age is too risky. This result shows the assumption regarding sex and reproductive health causing teenagers to be more permissive in doing their first sex intercourse is false.
Right, Responsibility, Respect (Three Rs)
This trilogy becomes values which underlies social philosophy of the teenagers’ sex and reproductive health in Netherlands. The government and people perceive accurate sex and reproductive health information which are friendly for teenagers, is not only a necessity, but also a basic right, so this becomes one of the priority programs. The preventive action carried out by the government is more on the education side, and this step is quite effective in reducing unhealthy sex attitude of teenagers. It is not surprising for developed countries like United States, also adopt the Dutch Model.
This preventive action has made society more responsible in managing their sex behavior. This country seems to have an unwritten social contract, as if “we respect your rights and privacy. In return, you will take responsible actions to avoid the risk of sex behavior”. The preventive action carried out is not only through education, but also by alleviating risky sex behavior already occurred such as early age or unwanted pregnancy, IMS, and so on. It is also by providing adequate teenagers’ friendly health service, like counseling, contraception tools service and other medication.
The Three Rs is thoroughly implemented by the government and people of the Netherlands, so it helps them in overcoming obstacles and achieving socio-cultural consensus that sex is normal and natural for every living human being. Through media campaign, the government’s aid in health service and good education, with people support, the Netherlands have succeeded in implementing Lang Leve de Liefda with open mind attitude which assures their people live healthy and prosperously, not only today’s generation but also for generation in years to come.  Anis Fachrotul Fuadah
- “European approaches to Adolescent Sexual Behavior & Responsibility”. (www.advocatesforyouth.org)
- The UNESCO Courier.( www.unesco.org)
- “Netherland s: Let’s Talk about Sex”. (news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/662403)
- “Principal and Teachers Views of Sexuality Edcation in Flanders”. (The Journal of School Health)