A sociologist from my old department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amy Schalet, has completed a comparative study of Dutch and American attitudes towards teen sexuality. I haven’t read the book yet, but there was an interesting interview in Salon, an online magazine.
The basic upshot of her research is that families in the Netherlands are much more accepting of teen sexuality than we are here. Teenagers in the Netherlands have higher contraceptive use and lower teen pregnancy rates while having sex about as frequently as American teens. There are many more details in the article.
The interesting thing about this research is that it violates our societal beliefs about how to lower teen pregnancies. Ask most people what they think about how to reduce teen pregnancies and they will not say allow them to have sex at home and talk about sex more. Most people believe that these actions would lead to more teen sex and more teen pregnancies.
Is this the solutions for the U.S.? Cultures are remarkably hard to change and ideas from one culture don’t always translate to another culture, but it is an interesting bit of sociological data that should be considered when we make policy.
And just to keep people informed about the issue…