Dutch Offer Winning Formula to Cut Teenage Pregnancies -3/01

Smartmarriages © cmfce at his.com
Thu Mar 8 08:28:10 EST 2001


subject: Dutch Offer Winning Formula to Cut Teenage Pregnancies -3/01

from: Smart Marriages

Friday March 2 11:44 AM ET
Dutch Offer Winning Formula to Cut Teenage Pregnancies

By Patricia Reaney 

LONDON (Reuters) - Sex education, free contraceptives and liberal attitudes
toward sex are among the best ways to reduce soaring teenage pregnancy
rates, a Dutch researcher said Friday.

The Dutch should know. The tiny country better known for its cheese,
windmills and canals has fewer pregnant teenagers than most Western
countries. 

Less than one percent, or 10 per 1,000, 15-17 year-olds in the Netherlands
get pregnant each year, compared to nearly five percent in Britain, which
has the highest rate in Western Europe, and 99 per 1,000 in the United
States. 

``Teenage pregnancy seems virtually eliminated as a health and social
problem in the Netherlands,'' Dr. Simone Buitendijk, of the Dutch Institute
for Applied Scientific Research in Leiden, told Reuters.

The Dutch have seen a steady drop in the number of young mothers for decades
as teen pregnancies have been increasing in other countries. In the early
1970s four percent of live births in the Netherlands were to teenagers. By
the late 1990s the figure had dropped to one percent.

``It's due to a whole mix of things. It is very hard to pinpoint what the
major factor is. The liberal attitude is probably one very important
determinant,'' she added in a telephone interview.

Better Knowlege Of The Birds And Bees

While other countries have been expounding the joys of no sex, the Dutch
have accepted that teens are sexually active and have introduced measures to
deal with it. 

``In Holland teens know about sexuality and about procreation, how it works
and what you should do not to become pregnant. Their peers know and it is a
very socially acceptable thing to prevent pregnancy,'' she added.

Birth control pills are available at pharmacies and free through a National
Sick Fund, a state-funded system that ensures low income people have medical
care, and statistics show that Dutch teenagers are using them.

In 1995, 70 percent of sexually active 18 year-olds were on the pill and 40
percent of students three or four years younger. Eighty-five percent of
teens used a condom, the pill or both during their first sexual experience.

Buitendijk, who will present the Dutch data at a meeting on child health in
London, said condoms are popular among young teenagers but the pill gains
preference as they get older.

``Factors that positively influence contraceptive behavior in Dutch
teenagers are their sufficient knowledge of reproduction and contraception,
the large amount of information available to them both in school and
informally and the general permissive attitude the Dutch hold toward teen
sexuality,'' she said.

Proof that birth control is the key is supported by a drop in teenage
abortions in the Netherlands but an increase in sexual activity. So more
teens are having sex but fewer are getting pregnant or having abortions.


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