teenage pregnancy

Newsflash America: Denying Teen Sex Doesn’t Make It Go Away (Part 2)

In the U.S., teens often feel that if they were to confide in their parents about having sex or thinking about it, their parents would be very disappointed.

That is one of the reasons why teens don’t seek advice or guidance from their parents when it comes to sexual matters. But what about parents who don’t talk to their children?


Two major fears that American parents have are that if they broach the subject of sex with their teen, they may give the impression that they condone it or put the idea in their head in the first place. Let’s take a closer look at this concern that most American parents have.

For one, the fact that this parent doesn’t want their teen to think they “condone” teen sex reflects how, for American parents, teen sex is something to be feared and forbidden, even though the majority of American teens make sex part of their lives by age 17 or 18. Understandably, any approach that focuses on the dangers of sex does not give teens the tools to navigate the territory of sexuality and relationships in a healthy way. The evidence is in: the U.S. has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates and the Netherlands one of the lowest in the world.

But what is there to fear?

Obviously, there are the risks of unwanted pregnancy, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD/STIs) when it comes to sex, but Americans tend to forget that there is as easy, cheap, and simple way to curtail these risks substantially: CONDOMS. Using latex condoms correctly and consistently are highly effective (nearly 99%) in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV and several STD/STIs during vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse, pregnancy, Using condoms also lowers female’s risk of developing cervical cancer and can help people clear HPV infection and/or reduce their risk of re-infection.

Other methods of contraception, such as hormonal methods, are just as effective. In fact, in the Netherlands, 6 out of 10 teenage girls are on the pill at first intercourse, versus only about 1 in 5 in the U.S. If more parents and educators openly taught teens about condoms and other contraceptives, teens would increase their use of contraceptives. Only then will the rate of unintended pregnancies, STD/STIs, and abortions drastically decline, and effectively reduce the risk of teen sex by teens who are too uneducated about sexual health matters to be sexually responsible.


Second, many experts agree that talking honestly and comprehensively to teens about sexuality does not increase the likelihood of sexual activity: it actually delays the onset of sex, reduce the frequency of sex, and lower the number of sexual partners among teens. Addressing sexuality frequently and with regard to different aspects, such as relationships, helps young people make more empowered and responsible choices about sex and their sexuality. Furthermore, when parents are able to provide guidance, teens will be less likely to rely on unrealistic and unhealthy media portrayals, such as porn, to help them understand how they should behave sexually.


For more detailed information, check out Schalet’s book “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sexthat holistically compares American and Dutch teen sexual health outcomes based on the drastically different approaches to teen sexuality in the U.S. and the Netherlands.

Parents or teens can use her book or this post and “Newsflash America: Denying Teen Sex Doesn’t Make It Go Away (Part 1)” as conversation starters to move your family’s ideas forward in a healthy and safe way.

Image source:Wikimedia
Image source:Wikimedia – Another Point of View. User: Lamilli






Newsflash America: Denying Teen Sex Doesn’t Make It Go Away (Part 1)

Also in Spanish


Amy Schalet, author of “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex” (University of Chicago Press, November 2011), states that denial is the real problem for American parents when it comes to teen sex.

. . . But talking to teens about sex does curtail unwanted teenage pregnancy

Amy Schalet, an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst originally from the Netherlands, urges American parents to stop denying that teens have premarital sex or participate in other sexual activities. Once parents accept that teens have sex, and teenage sexual development is normal, then parents and children will be able to have open relationships. Also, teens will see their parents as available resources when they start exploring their sexuality and develop sexual morals. “Adolescents,” according to Schalet in an interview, “still need their parents as support, to help sort out what are healthy relationships, to take precautions against the risks of sex, and deal with experiences of first love.”

But most parents do want to talk and be resources for their children. However, only expressing concerns and warning against the dangers of sex are not the way to foster trust and openness in any relationship, making it difficult for teens to confide in them. Therefore, a culture of “sneaking around” is established where teens hide their sexual activities from their parents, which never ends well for either teens or their parents.

Americans view teen sexuality as merely a storm of hormones, generating the expectation that teens can’t actually have sex in the context of loving relationships. Schalet says that this can lead to the psychic burden of being split between being a “good” child and a sexual being: a phenomenon that does not happen as readily in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, Dutch families, the educational system, and the health care system go through the process of “normalizing” teenage sexual development: young people are encouraged to “self-regulate,” or refrain from sex before they are ready. But Dutch and Americans have severely different ideas to when teens are ready to have sex.

Most Dutch parents agree that teens are not ready for sex before the age 16 and that sex should occur in steady relationships in which both teens are in love and use precautions. Moreover, Dutch parents don’t want teenage sex to be a secret: they want to stay connected with their teens and be able to exercise influence and provide support, which includes providing teens with contraceptives.

For example, Dutch parents allow their older teens to have sleepovers with their partners, knowing full well that sex might occur. The conditions for the sleepover are generally that (again) the teens are in a steady relationship, are in love, and the parents have met or are familiar the partner (showing how Dutch parents, like their American counterparts, do not particularly want their teens to have “one night stands” or “hook ups,” for these pose greater threats to sexual health through STD/STIs transmission). On the other hand, Americans believe teens will never be ready for sex and expect youth to abstain from sex until marriage.

But why are parents in America so reluctant to speak with their children about sex when the Dutch aren’t?

Find out in “Newsflash America: Denying Teen Sex Doesn’t Make It Go Away PART 2 coming soon!

Tags: Teen sex, The Netherlands, Parents, teenage pregnancy, teenage sexual development, sexually transmitted diseases, abstinence


Caption: The Dutch acknowledge that children grow up to become sexual beings way before marriage. Therefore, parents and educators do all they can to help prepare teens to be sexually responsible and healthy when they are ready and decide to become sexually active.

Creative Commons Image by: FaceMePLS