Home Institution

Wheaton College

Publication Date

Fall 2005

Program Name

Netherlands: Sexuality and Gender Identity


This paper investigates the ways in which Dutch children, under the age of 12, learn about sexuality. This is a holistic investigation of three different avenues of education that children receive; parents, schools, and organizations. Through a framework of developmental psychology, I examine how the methods of, and dominant theories behind, education reveal a larger cultural conception of childhood sexuality.

Through in-depth interviews, I spoke with one parent who lives in Amsterdam, one primary school teacher from the De Theo Thysen School in Amsterdam, two primary school sex educators from the Hulpverlening Gelderland Midden in Arnhem, and a representative from Rutgers NISSO groep in Utrecht, the Nationaal Instituut voor Gezondheidsbevordering en Ziektepreventie in Worden, and De Nederlandse Vereniging voor Seksuele Hervorming in the Hague.

Common themes manifested among these sources of information that were indicative of a cultural understanding of the child’s sexual development as a period vital to a healthy sexual life as an adult. Children were spoken to frankly about sexuality, but in a manner that compliments their cognitive development, as they are seen as developing the foundation for an adult sexual life.

Through this research I highlight a current debate concerning the fate of formal sexual education in primary schools with an assessment of the current and proposed systems.


Developmental Psychology | Education


Article Location