Young people in the Netherlands do not only start having sexual intercourse at a later age in compared to ; this is also the case with other forms of sex, such as kissing. The number of young people who have their first sexual experiences at a very young age, between 12 and 14, has decreased. That is good news, because young people who start having sex at a very early age are more often forced or persuaded to do so and more often have unprotected sex. Compared to , more young Dutch people use a contraceptive method when they have sex for the first time.
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Young people start at a later age
Perhaps, though, we can move a little of the Netherlands here. Because the Dutch seem to have it all figured out. While we in the United States have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world, they have among the lowest. Our teen birth rate is eight times higher than theirs, and our teen abortion rate is 1. There are some significant demographic differences that affect those numbers: We are a more diverse nation than Holland, with higher rates of childhood poverty, fewer social welfare guarantees and more social conservatives.
The Dutch could teach American parents a thing or two about the birds and the bees -- namely, the virtues of respect and acceptance of teenage sexuality. I just stumbled across a fascinating study via Sociological Images that compares these divergent cultural attitudes toward doing the nasty which, by the way, is much less likely to be cast as "nasty" or "dirty" in the Netherlands. The report, "Sex, Love, and Autonomy in the Teenage Sleepover" by sociologist Amy Schalet, spills plenty of ink describing the forbidding and fearful American view of premarital teen sex that is all too familiar to most of us stateside. It's her description of parental attitudes in the Netherlands that really surprises, though. A survey "found that two thirds of Dutch fifteen to seventeen-year-olds with steady boy- or girlfriends are allowed to spend the night with them in their bedrooms, and that boys and girls are equally likely to get permission for a sleepover.
Expats get to expand their way of thinking, challenging the norms of their home countries. When you decide to raise children in a culture other than the one in which you were raised, this can be complex. Ineke van der Vlugt, program coordinator for Rutgers WPF, told me the goal of most schools and parents is for children to be able to discuss sex as they would any other topic, and that this relaxed approach—and easy access to many forms of birth control here, including over-the-counter day after pills—enables children to be educated and safe. I was surprised to learn also that the majority of Dutch parents are open to allowing their older teens to have co-ed sleepovers at home, provided they are in serious relationships. But it made me wonder how other expats and Dutch parents feel about this. Although the idea of knowingly permitting my children to have sex at home initially seemed impossible, the statistics—including very low teen pregnancy rates and instances of homosexual bullying here—make me think this open attitude is a pretty good thing. Read more here , and let us know what you think. Author Recent Posts. Tracy Brown Hamilton. Latest posts by Tracy Brown Hamilton see all.