Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blame It On Culture

I grew up in a rather strict household where if I wanted to spend the night at a friend’s house, my mother would retort with “why would you want to sleep in someone’s house, when you can sleep in your own house?” Bed times were set, punishments were enforced and church on Sundays was mandatory. After leaving Catholic school, I entered into a public institution were I immediately saw a difference between me and the other children; they cursed more, they had relationships (well, relationships appropriate for a 7th grader), and best of all they knew things about sex and body parts that I have never heard of.

I tell you all of this because of an article I read comparing the Dutch to Americans. The article states facts like: ‘"two thirds of Dutch fifteen to seventeen-year-olds with steady boy- or girlfriends is allowed to spend the night with them in their bedrooms.” Yet the birth rate among American teens is a whopping eight times that of the Dutch. Their reasoning is that American parents view teenage relationships as insignificant and petty, while Dutch parents treat such relationships as normal and healthy. As a result, Dutch teens engage in safe sex when in committed relationships while many American teenagers are having unprotected sex outside of relationships. They also, of course, cite Americans’ affiliation with religion, and abstinence- only education programs as being other reasons for high teen pregnancy and abortion rates, but that is old news.

It is an interesting point of view, and one I can relate with because I was once sheltered due to the kind of school I attended and the people I was exposed to while I was there. Luckily, the move from private to public facilitated an awakening of sorts, where I became exposed to more information about sexual health, although not exactly comprehensive information about sexual health.

Reading about the differences between us and the Dutch makes me a bit envious; they have comprehensive sex-ed programs, accessible reproductive healthcare, and adults who treat adolescent relationships with respect; AND THEY BEAT URUGUAY IN THE WORLD CUP! Sorry, I had to throw that last one in there; I’m still fuming about the loss.

1 comment:

  1. With reference the Dutch laws on early teens, Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, was just 13. Our laws seem dictatorial and inefficient.