A recent study comparing sexual health in Europe (specifically the Netherlands) and the United States has shown that we Sexperts may be taking steps in the right direction by frankly discussing sex and sexual health. The study compared the tone of condom ads and parental views on premarital sex and how they affect the sexual health of teens on both sides of the Atlantic. The United States has a teen pregnancy rate three to six times higher than that of any Western European country. The American view that teen sexuality is “reckless and dangerous” causes many parents to use scare tactics to “control” it. On the other hand, Dutch parents spend more time teaching teens how to be ready and responsible when they do decide to become sexually active, instead of preaching abstinence. This difference in opinions seems to come from opposing views on teen love. In the United States, many parents don’t believe that teenagers experience “real” love, while the Dutch view love as common amongst teenagers and expect sex to only occur within a committed relationship. In response to the question, “Would you permit your child to spend the night with a girlfriend or boyfriend in his or her room at home,” 9 out 10 American parents responded no. Comparatively, 9 out of 10 Dutch parents said yes, if the child was over 16 and in a committed relationship. Rather than hiding their sexuality like in the U.S., Dutch teens often sit down with parents, talk about why they are ready to have sex and seek permission. This healthy approach to teen sexuality may explain why only 12% of girls and 5% of boys in the Netherlands wish they have waited longer to have sex, as opposed to 69% of girls and 63% of boys in the U.S. Even condom ads demonstrate and reinforce this difference in opinion. American condom ads almost always have a negative slant; one compares sex without a condom to fighting an industrial fire naked (which still compares sex with a condom to the oh-so-fun activity of fighting an industrial fire clothed). Europe- condom ads focus on linking sex and love (one ad says “Give the gift of love” above a condom) and using humor to promote condom use. Overall, the healthy and open approach to sexuality in Europe seems to lead to greater teen sexual and mental health.
information and images from slate.com/id/2272631