American teenagers have the highest unplanned pregnancy rate in the industrial world. This is a massive problem that will not be fixed by shouting abstinence into a void. Birth control education doesn't seem to be putting a dent in the stats either.
In the Netherlands, they've had success with letting teenagers sleep over at the boy- or girlfriend's house. Not that sleepovers are a birth control strategy, it simply seems the Dutch normalize sex rather than scream about death, pregnancy, participate in slut shaming, or any of the other unhealthy attitudes Americans are given about a very natural and lovely thing.
Two thirds of Dutch teenagers are allowed to have romantic sleepovers, and it's not more common among the parents of girls or boys. Gender equality is also big over there in Holland, which leaves little room for "nice girls" or boys who seemingly just can't control themselves.
Broadsheet takes a look at the results of such liberal thinking:
The upshot of all this? Dutch teens are giving birth left and right and plagued by STDs! Oh, no, wait -- the truth is actually the opposite of that. "In 2007, births to American teens (ages fifteen to nineteen) were eight times as high as in the Netherlands," reports Schalet, and the Netherlands generally whoops on the states in terms of STD rates, too. What's more, "it also appears that having sex outside of the context of monogamous romantic relationships isn't as common among Dutch adolescents, especially older ones, as among their American counterparts."
This doesn't surprise me, as being sex positive allows teens to take control of their own sexuality. Making decisions from a place of love instead of fear is always the right choice.
Of course teens in the Netherlands also have health care and access to birth control, something that all American kids do not. Which is shameful.
Although I admit it makes me slightly nervous to consider this option for my own children. However, I can't count the number of times I've said to myself that I wouldn't parent like my own; which included fear of anything remotely sexual. So I'm willing to allow my teens (who are years and years away from being such) the opportunity to explore their sexuality under my own roof. This, of course, after many discussions, much information shared, and perhaps a shot of tequila.
Would you let your teens have a sleepover with their boyfriend or girlfriend?
Image via ShaZ Ni* Fotogurafiku/Flickr