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In the Netherlands, I am struck by the honesty and integrity of parents and educators who believe that if a child is old enough to ask a question, he is old enough to get an answer. While these answers are age appropriate, children tend to develop healthier body images, better communication skills and the feeling that no topic is taboo when they are encouraged to ask questions. As this exchange boosts a child's confidence and trust, it also builds his self-esteem. And while life skills classes are an integral part of the school curriculum, one of the many lessons children learn in these classes is how to build and nurture a relationship and how to be a responsible friend. How's that for an education...
Germany's media campaigns in the area of safe sex are brilliant. Prominent athletes and politicians often endorse commercials promoting condom use. The commercials are witty, sexy, bold, edgey, and speak directly to a young audience of hormonal hipsters. By addressing, and not repressing their sexuality, these advertisers are successfully attracting their demographic while simultaneously educating youth about disease prevention. Teaching a young mind to respect his or her young body is teaching self-esteem. And, as we all know, self esteem is fostered by education and communication.
France, much like the Netherlands and Germany has normalized sex in a way that allows teenagers a healthy dialogue between parents and teens, educators and students and the media and its audience. The European attitude recognizes that emotional maturity goes hand in hand with sexuality. Casual or recreational sex often comes with a hefty price tag and while teenagers will always be curious, they should also be prepared with both the physical and spiritual tools to handle their growing libidos.
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