Learning Self Respect

Essay by RobBaur October 2014

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The Importance of Learning Self-respect On a recent visit to Europe, I had the good fortune to participate in a study tour, focusing on teenage sexuality, sex-education in the schools, the impact of the media, and parent-child communication. While teen sexual activity, pregnancy rates, HIV and STI statistics are exceedingly high in the United States; the Netherlands, Germany and France all maintain a much healthier standard. While these European teens are not only beginning sexual activity a year later than our teens, on an average, the reason for their better health seems to me fairly obvious better mental health. These teens are being groomed with self-respect from a very young age. 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...