Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Teenage Pregnancies

Here's Alice Thomson:-

Enough. British children shouldn’t be getting their sex education from Ashley and Cheryl but from their parents and teachers. I was once one of those prissy, prudish parents pussyfooting around the question until I was sent to the Netherlands by this newspaper to discuss procreation.

The Netherlands. This should be interesting.
In the Netherlands, sex and children aren’t a taboo subject. As pupils play mummies and daddies in the playground they know exactly what they might have been doing last night. Families watch babies being born on the birthing channel together and a 12-year-old at the senior school showed me how to roll a condom on to a broomstick while her friend asked me if I masturbated.
OK. I don't see this as unhelpful.
Yet the 17-year-old girls were shocked when I asked if they had actually had sex. They all agreed they didn’t want to consummate any relationship until they had a career and a serious partner. The country now has the lowest rates of sexually transmitted diseases among young people, the lowest teenage pregnancy rate in the West, the lowest rate of abortion and one of the lowest rates of divorce.

The British, meanwhile, expect their children to learn about sex and relationships from the playground, internet porn, WAGs and celebrities, and are amazed that we have the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases and abortions among the under 21s in Europe. In Britain, 53 per cent of young people use contraception. In Holland, it’s 93 per cent. David Cameron is worried about his daughter Nancy learning about sex from listening to Lily Allen on his iPod, but he hasn’t suggested an alternative.

More sex please, we’re British.
That's funny, because in Alice Thomson's piece from November 24, 2008, she said:-
In Britain the average teenager loses his or her virginity at 16 - more than a year before the Dutch average of 17.7 years.
Which suggests that rather a lot of them are going hammer and tongs long before they've got a career and a serious relationship.

Funnily enough in that piece from 2008 she actually nailed why the Netherlands has so few teenage pregnancies:-
Another reason why the teenage pregnancy rate is so low may be that in the Netherlands there is still a stigma attached to having a child before the age of 20. In Britain, a baby who can offer unconditional love, a free home away from parents and a cheque every month is not considered a disaster for a teenage girl. The Dutch Government still penalises single mothers under 18, who are expected to live with their parents if they become pregnant. Until six years ago the Government gave them no financial support.
Which is, of course, the real reason, and is backed up by the levels of teenage pregnancy in Switzerland and Japan where no assistance is given.

Through a strange accident of scheduling, I never had a single sex education lesson. Yet, at the age of 17 I knew about condoms and how they work, because kids talk about this stuff. I seriously don't believe that there aren't any boys out there who don't know because everyone in my year did (or else they're the sort of non-disgusting boys who aren't chasing girls anyway). And once you've seen a condom, they're pretty intuitive. They might well have instructions, but you don't really need to read them. The design tells you everything.

I'm sure there's a few dummies out there, but most kids know this stuff. It's more a question of them being prepared to accept the risk of pregnancy. If the state's going to support her and the baby anyway, then you might as well have the extra fun.

The sooner we stop wasting hundreds of millions on programmes that most kids don't need (and maybe just giving the simplest explanation about condoms and pregnancy), and start addressing the benefits system, the sooner we'll sort this problem out.

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