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Parents and the Issue of Teenage Sex

Courtesy of Slate, we take a look at how one society typically approaches the rather awkward issue of young people having sex.

Sleepovers have been normalized in the Netherlands for decades now, and as social scientist Amy Schalet’s research suggests, the results have been generally positive. By demonstrating acceptance and respect for their kids’ relationships, Dutch parents, on average, enjoy more communication with their kids about sex and relationships than American parents do, which in turn means the kids are more likely to get the health care and education they need to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Subsequently, the teenage pregnancy rate in the Netherlands is nearly four times lower than ours.

Schalet also discovered that the Dutch way helped minimize negative stereotyping about gender, love, and sexuality. In the U.S., there’s a tendency to see sex as a battle between boys and girls, with parents falling for “the stereotype that all boys want the same thing, and all girls want love and cuddling.” But because Dutch parents respect teenage relationships, they have a more holistic view, understanding that most young people of any gender want a combination of both.

As usual, it seems that taking the more open-minded and communicative route is the most effective. Demonizing and restricting sex has historically never had much of a positive impact, and this is borne out by empirical evidence.

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