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Shaken not deterred: Rutgers launches Spring Fever Week 2024

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1 March 2024 Tags: Netherlands, Spring Fever Week

Last year, our annual sexuality education campaign, Spring Fever Week, was targeted by disinformation campaigns. Despite the turbulence, Rutgers is undeterred and looking forward to the upcoming Spring Fever Week.

More determined than ever to emphasise the positive impact of sexuality education both at home and in schools, this year Rutgers is, once again, fully committed to the healthy and safe development of children. Scheduled from 4 to 8 March, Spring Fever Week in the Netherlands will spotlight online resilience, social media literacy and addressing situations where young children may inadvertently come across nude images or explicit content. Rutgers and the Dutch Municipal Health Services are joining forces for the 19th consecutive year to organise this important week.

Throughout the week, primary and special education schools voluntarily dedicate extra attention to themes such as resilience, relationships, and sexuality. The objective is for children to learn about their own and other people’s wishes and boundaries in a safe environment with reliable and developmentally and age-appropriated information. This is becoming increasingly important in a world where boundaries are crossed every day, increasingly also online. Participating schools have the flexibility to choose teaching materials that align with their identity and philosophy.

Teaching children how to use the internet and social media safely is this year’s focus of Spring Fever Week. “Children spend part of their free time online. This is fun and expands their world, but there is also a downside. Online, children sometimes encounter inappropriate and unwanted content, receive inappropriate requests and may be bullied.

“By paying attention to online resilience at home and in the classroom, you teach children to be safer online and contribute to the prevention of online (sexually) transgressive behaviour”

Elsbeth Reitzema, expert on relational and sexuality education at Rutgers.

Lessons from last year’s Spring Fever Week 

Reflecting on the outcomes of last year’s Spring Fever Week, Rutgers had some positive experiences. The Spring Fever Week campaign has become impossible to ignore, marking a significant 20% increase in sexuality education lessons delivered in schools compared to 2022. This surge underscores the growing acknowledgment of the importance of sexuality and relational education.

In response to valuable feedback from parents, Rutgers has actively listened and learned, resulting in enhanced support for schools in involving and informing parents. It has taken proactive steps, including the creation of a dedicated website for parents and the introduction of informative webinars. These resources aim to support parents in initiating conversations about sexual and reproductive health, addressing online violence and fostering open dialogue with their children.

Delving into conversations about relationships, sexuality and diversity may evoke a mix of discomfort and excitement, especially amongst parents and teachers. However, it is vital for parents and teachers to build trust and collaborate. By doing so, we support children to navigate their preferences confidently, safeguarding them from inappropriate behaviour and misinformation. Together, we dispel persistent myths and create an environment that nurtures informed choices for children.

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