American Pie: Sex, Teens, And Parents

29 Oct


Rachael Phelps argues that the European view of sex is healthier. She notes that in both Europe and America "the age at which most people start having sex is 17," but that teen pregnancy "rates in the United States are three to six times higher than in Western European countries" and that "gonorrhea and chlamydia rates are 20 to 30 times higher here than in the Netherlands" One major cultural difference:

In the United States, sex is generally kept secret from parents.

In a 2004 study, [Dutch-American sociologist Dr. Amy Schalet ] asked parents: "Would you permit your son or daughter to spend the night with a girlfriend or boyfriend in his or her room at home?" Not surprisingly, nine out of 10 American parents said, no, often adding, "Not under my roof!" ... According to Schalet, Dutch parents struggle with their teens' emerging sexuality, but they deal with it by bringing the issue out into the open and into the home, where they can supervise. Nine out of 10 Dutch parents told Schalet they have allowed or would allow a romantic sleepover under the right circumstances: With a child who was 16 or older and in a loving committed relationship that the parents observed develop gradually. It is common for Dutch teens to sit down together with each set of parents to discuss why they think they're ready to have sex, and to seek permission.

The first time they had sex, 64 percent of Dutch teens used birth control, compared with only 26 percent of American teens. Most of the time, the Dutch teens used pills. Think about it for a minute: The majority of Dutch teens are making an appointment, going to a clinic, getting a prescription filled and starting birth control before they have sex.

(Hat tip: Cohn)

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