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Netherlands 61% of sexually active 15-year-old girls used birth control pill at last intercourse (2006/2007 survey)81% of females and 66% of males reported that their last intercourse was with a partner in a monogamous, loving relationship (2005 survey of Dutch youth, 12-25) Schalet’s book, which draws on extensive interviews with more than 100 teenagers and their parents in both countries, highlights stark distinctions between the information Dutch teenagers get about sex, where schools and families promote a positive narrative of sexuality within the context of a loving relationship and normal development, and the mixed messages American teenagers receive.
“The culture as a whole, whether we’re talking about sex education or the media, really has a schizophrenic relationship with teen sexuality,’’ says Schalet.
Add to that a national political debate over abortion, birth control, and sex education, and it’s not surprising that, as Schalet writes, in this country “teen sex has been dramatized - fraught with cultural ambivalences, heated political struggles, and poor health outcomes.’’ Still, for most American parents — even those who would consider themselves liberal or progressive on social issues — the idea of a parentally approved romantic sleepover is not on the table.“My rule in the house is not under my roof,’’ says Carmen Torres, 56, of Roxbury, whose children are now young adults.
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“After you’re a certain age you can make certain decisions,’’ she goes on, “but I expect that you will do that when you have your own place, somewhere else.’’ As co-headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy, Torres is a veteran educator and strong advocate for accurate sex education. There are many layers, both generational and cultural.’’Linda Nathan, also 56, of Cambridge, works alongside Torres as co-headmaster at BAA. “I realized pretty early that I’d better give my daughter a chance to talk about birth control with experts.
I made sure she had the opportunity to do that.’’ Most parents, of course, arrive at their policies regarding teen sexuality either by repeating, or reacting against, how they themselves grew up.