Teens in Western European countries are given much more information on sexuality.
Western European teens have fewer pregnancies, and lower levels of STDs, than their American counterparts. Why? Because teens in Europe have easy access to contraceptives, confidential health care and comprehensive sex education. Teen sex is seen as a healthy thing. (Compare that to America’s puritanical, ineffective abstinence programs.)
Pierre-Andre Michaud, chief of the Multidisciplinary Unit for Adolescent Health at the University of Lausanne Hospital in Switzerland and a leading researcher in European teen sexuality, dismisses the idea—widely held in the United States—that sex constitutes risky behavior for teens. In an editorial in May’s Journal of Adolescent Health, he wrote:
“In many European countries—Switzerland in particular—sexual intercourse, at least from the age of 15 or 16 years, is considered acceptable and even part of normative adolescent behavior.” Switzerland, he noted, has one of the world’s lowest rates of abortion and teen pregnancy. Teens there, like those in Sweden and the Netherlands, have easy access to contraceptives, confidential health care and comprehensive sex education.
A 2001 Guttmacher Institute report, drawing on data from 30 countries in Western and Eastern Europe, concluded: “Societal acceptance of sexual activity among young people, combined with comprehensive and balanced information about sexuality and clear expectations about commitment and prevention, childbearing and STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] within teenage relationships, are hallmarks of countries with low levels of adolescent pregnancy, childbearing and STDs.” The study cited Sweden as the “clearest of the case-study countries in viewing sexuality among young people as natural and good.”