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The age at which Europeans and Americans first have sex is the same — 17, on average, on both sides of the Atlantic. The percentage who use birth control from the start? In Holland it’s 64 percent and in the United States it’s 26 percent. The percentage who have regrets about their first time, wishing they had waited: 63 percent of boys and 69 percent of girls in the United States, and only 5 percent of boys and 12 percent of girls in the Netherlands. Teen pregnancy rates: three to six times higher here than in Western Europe. S.T.D. rates: 20 to 30 times higher here than Holland. H.I.V. rate? Theirs is six times lower.

Those are some of the contrasts presented in a slideshow on Slate.com, which looks at the different ways Europeans and Americans talk, in public and private, about sex. Rachel Phelps (who works at Planned Parenthood in the United States) concludes that while American parents, advertisers and public-service announcements aim to scare teens, those in Europe are matter of fact and humorous.

“A Different Kind of Sex Talk With Teens”

I think it’s important to point out the issues with talking about “Americans” vs. “Europeans” when discussing statistics from the USA and the Netherlands. I get a little frustrated with American articles lumping “Europe” into one country, with one culture and one set of laws. Let’s be clear that this is a comparison between the Americans and the Dutch, whereas the situation across Europe as a whole is far more varied. In the UK (where we have the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe) one of my biggest concerns about sex education is that it is not as liberal, informative, matter of fact or comprehensive as elsewhere in Europe, nor does it start at as young an age. This week Conservative MP Nadine Dorries put forward a bill to introduce abstinence education for girls only. Whilst it is unlikely to ever become law, 67 MPs voted in favour of it. It’s a puritanical, moralistic proposal towards a system which has been shown time and time again not to work in the USA and which shames girls and places the onus on them to be gatekeepers of sex, rather than teaching them to understand the complexities of consent and desire. I would passionately love for the UK to look to other European countries, such as Holland and Sweden, in order to start having proper conversations about how we too can improve the information our own children and young people are receiving.

(via petitefeministe)

(Source: bubonickitten, via gildedlillian)

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