Dutch Offer Winning Formula to Cut Teenage Pregnancies.
March 2, 2001 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Dutch Offer Winning Formula to Cut Teenage Pregnancies. While we tout abstinence and keep our kids ignorant, the Dutch win with the opposite approach. Not a big surprise.
posted by frykitty (7 comments total)
Sex education is very important, of course, but I don't think it's the only key. Do the 99 of 1000 American teen girls really not know that sex will get them pregnant? I think the Dutch level education is higher in general. Better-educated girls will probably feel that they will have a brighter future if they wait to have children.
posted by Loudmax at 10:07 AM on March 2, 2001

The drive behind the abstinence cause is, of course, not preventing AIDS or teen pregnancy -- it's to stop teenagers having sex. Many people find the idea of teen sexuality revolting and scary, and those people would not be happy with the outcome the story describes: more sex, less pregnancy.

A newspaper I once worked at hosted a forum of teenagers discussing the issue of virginity. Nearly all of the 15 or so teens seemed to find sex terrifying and mysterious ("What if it goes wrong?" "What if it changes me?"). So the idea, a sad one, has taken hold.
posted by argybarg at 10:38 AM on March 2, 2001

that's seriously good stuff there. the abstinence speeches in school never worked on anyone i know; those that want to wait want to do it for religious or other moral reasons, not because of anything they learned in school. they also aren't likely to change their minds based on what their health teacher says. i think this is wonderful. birth control pills should definitely be more widely available in the US, and people should tell kids what to do if they do want to have sex - more than just telling them to use a condom or get on the pill.

when i had to face this whole issue, i had no idea how to go about any of this. where would i even find the pill without telling my parents? i had to go ask upperclassmen. no way was i going to actually ask a teacher. however, if a teacher had told us in health "okay, if you do decide to have sex, this is exactly how you do it. you go down to the family planning clinic, etc etc..." and told us what was involved, told us how much it would cost, etc, i think i would have been a lot better adjusted about it. as it was, when i went in there, my blood pressure was through the roof. if you scare kids out of the preventatives, you're only scaring them out of being safe, not out of having sex.
posted by pikachulolita at 3:36 PM on March 2, 2001

I wonder why this is suddenly become 'news' - as these facts have been known for years (over here). One thing strikes me as doubtful: Proof that birth control is the key is supported by a drop in teenage abortions in the Netherlands but an increase in sexual activity.

Figures always show Dutch kids become sexually active as a later age, as is mentioned in this New Statesman article from 1998.

Recently I saw a report on TV which stated that the 1% of teenage pregnancies we DO have, are mostly within 'ethnic' communities - that haven't quite taken to our 'liberal' attidudes yet.

Here's another report which states: American teens typically become sexually active at age 15.8 compared to 17.7 for Dutch teens.

... to close it off with a typically Dutch story, my parents told me at age 16, 'Isn't it time you should go on the pill?'. I laughed heartily and told them - truthfully - I was years away from considering a sexual relationship. I guess we are the least repressed nation in the world.
posted by prolific at 4:07 PM on March 2, 2001

Ann was just talking about her parents' "sex talk", which was: don't. She lives in Hudsonville, where the Dutch sent their fundies.

American kids know they can get pregnant from having sex. That's obvious. But there's not a lot of talk about birth control. There probably should be more. We also seem to think that condoms solve everything, when really they're not a very good form of birth control. Better means (the pill, depo provera) are either 1.) not available (or kids don't know they are and 2.) have a lot of sort of myths and paranoia and such about them.
posted by dagnyscott at 4:53 PM on March 2, 2001

I don't know about the myths and paranoia about hormonal birth control, but I can report on my own reality...

For many if not most women, they don't pose any major problem, but for people like me, they pack a seriously negative punch!

When I went on the pill nine years ago, for just a few months, I had had relatively normal cycles and no major problems. I was only on the pill for a few months, and I experienced: weight gain of ten pounds (which I've never been able to get rid of), breast cup gain of one cup (ditto, and yes, I was happy with my breasts *before*), sudden onset of very nasty PMS which I hadn't previously had, and extremlely wildly irregular cycles for *years* after I stopped taking them. We're talking 52 days, 35 days, 46 days, bouncing all over the place. During some of this time I was trying to get pregnant, but never could. Of course I was married to The Wrong Guy at the time, so in retrospect it's a damn good thing, but still...

Some of us just have particularly precariously calibrated hormonal machinery, and even the "low dose" birth control pills I was on totally smashed it to pieces.

It has taken me many years to get back to relative normalcy. I shudder to fathom what depo-provera would have done to me - three months worth of hormones at once, with no way of getting it out of your system once it's in there. Ugh!

And shall I mention the unfortunate time 6 years ago when I was depressed, on Prozac, and my psychiatrist recommended I go on birth control pills for a little while to regularize my cycles?

The little experiment lasted one month, because it deepened the depression, *SEVERELY*. It was horrible, I can't even really describe how awful it was. It made my usual state of being seem rosy by comparison - I aspired to get back *up* to the way I felt on the days where I wandered around like a zombie looking for rocks to hide under.

Oh yeah. It was December. Merry Fucking Christmas, Beth!!!

Oh. Sorry. Bad memories.

The point is, hormonal birth control can fuck you up, so beware. It's not as benign as taking a vitamin.

That said, those Dutch, they sure have got a clue, haven't they? Dang, I hope we can learn from 'em.
posted by beth at 8:40 PM on March 2, 2001

Beth, while I don't envy your situation, the exact opposite can be true also. I'm just adding a data point. My girlfriend naturally has wildly swinging cycles and bad PMS. When she goes on the pill she tends to even out, get regular cycles and her PMS is alleviated.

Hormones are wacky things, that's for damn sure.
posted by cCranium at 7:55 AM on March 3, 2001

« Older THE Pope will host the European premiere of 2001:...   |   KIMBLE rulez! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments