When it comes to teen sex, "we need to be paying attention to the Netherlands," writes Tracy Clark-Flory on Salon. Unlike American parents who typically demonize pre-marital sex, Dutch parents commonly allow their teenagers—male and female alike—to have sleepovers with significant others, a new study finds. Even so, when it comes to birth rates, American teens had eight times as many births as their Dutch counterparts in 2007—"and the Netherlands generally whoops on the states in terms of STD rates, too," Clark-Flory writes.
"It's no coincidence that the country has also secured easy access (for both teens and adults) to contraceptives and other sexual health care," she continues. If American parents could be more accepting of their children's budding sexuality, perhaps fewer teens would "sneak out of the house to have sex in the backseat of a car." And Clark-Flory's admittedly atypical experience as an American teen was filled with many such sleepovers, allowing her to engage "in playful exploration in my childhood bedroom with my first love—and my parents were right across the hall the whole time. I had no sense that sex was a naughty or shameful act. And you know what? I consistently used condoms, I was on birth control pills and I insisted that both of us were tested for STDs."