For many families in America, having the sex talk can be extremely uncomfortable and is often times avoided. American parents, advertisers and public-service announcements typically aim to scare teens about sex. America portrays sex to youth as dangerous, scary, and bad. While Europe portrays sex to youth as expressing love and being healthy. An article by The New York Times compares the way Europeans and Americans portray sex to youth in the sex talk.
The Value of Sex
The New York Times states that “In the United States, teen sexuality is dramatized as an ‘overpowering force.’ Parents commonly talk about how their kids’ hormones ‘raging out of control.’ If teen sexuality is destined to be reckless and dangerous, then fear is the only hope of controlling it. In contrast with many Americans, the Dutch view teen sexuality as being ‘right.’ The Dutch use the phrase ‘being ready’ to talk about how their teens will know they are prepared to have sex. They spend less time and effort trying to prevent young people from becoming sexually active and more on educating them to be responsible when they do.”
Europeans have a more open view on sex and sex education. Americans hide from the sex talk trying to keep sex a secret. Due to this there are significant consequences. The average age at which Americans and Europeans first have sex is the same. Yet, the precautions and regrets that American teens have verses European teens is shockingly different. The percentage of teens who use birth control from the start of having sex in Holland is 64 percent. In the United States it’s 26 percent. The percentage of teens 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 are three to six times higher in the United States than they are in Western Europe. S.T.D. rates are 20 to 30 times higher in the United States than Holland. The H.I.V. rate in Western Europe is six times lower than here.
It’s Time for a Change
Based on the facts presented it is clear that our society needs to make a change. As Americans we need to stop hiding from the idea of sex. Parents need to get over feeling squeamish and take action to have the sex talk with their teens early on. Teens shouldn’t regret their first time because they didn’t understand the value of sex. The S.T.D and pregnancy rates shouldn’t be as high as they are because teens were too afraid to buy birth control. Don’t wait, have the sex talk with your teen before they end up being a part of the statistic.