Dutch Parents Unafraid of Teen Sexuality

September 17, 2010

Talking to Mom and Dad about sexuality might not be high on most teens’ lists. Too often, parents can be uncomfortable, unhelpful or even judgmental. But new research by sociologist Amy Schalet shows that parents’ attitudes can cause more than an awkward conversation. In the United States, where parents tend to approach the topic of teen sexuality as something shameful, it’s no surprise that teens hide their virginity loss from their parents and take risks when they lose their virginities, according to Schalet. This puts them in danger of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

When we compare rates of birth control use, pregnancy, STDs and abortion between teens in the United States and the Netherlands, the statistics speak for themselves. Check out this data from Advocates for Youth:

Teen pregnancy, abortion and STD rates in the United States are significantly higher. The reason may be simple: Dutch parents.

Dutch parents tend to address sex as a necessary topic, teaching their teens how to be safer rather than prohibiting them from having sex (or pretending it doesn’t happen). Dutch teenagers more often lose their virginity in safer situations, not by sneaking around behind their parents’ backs. More use condoms or take the Pill than in the United States. Less unprotected sex means fewer STDs and fewer abortions, and the stats show that, too.

It may be time for our parents to rethink the way they approach teen sex. It’s a matter of keeping teens safe—if parents treat sex more responsibly, so will their teens. And after all, safer sex is in everyone’s best interest!

—Meg Gibbon, 18, Contributor

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