Sex, Swedish-Style

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The Washington Post has a good article about how European countries with healthy attitudes towards sex—or, let’s say, the sorts of attitudes that least resemble Focus on the Family’s—have fewer problems with STDs and unwanted pregnancy than, say, we do here in the United States:

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.” …

In Sweden, compulsory sex education starts when children are 10 to 12. Without parental consent, teens can get free medical care, free condoms, prescriptions for inexpensive oral contraceptives and general advice at youth clinics. Emergency contraceptives (the so-called morning-after pill) are available without a prescription.

Shocking! Think of the children! But then again, lower rates of pregnancy and STDs… Hm, tough trade-off. Of course, this sort of thing would never fly in the United States, where 35 percent of schools teach abstinence-only and don’t so much as discuss contraception. Here’s why:

Religion tends to insert itself less in government policy on sex education, contraception and abortion in Western Europe than in the United States, says Michaud. The Catholic Church exerted minimal influence in Switzerland’s AIDS prevention campaign, he said. “All in all, the church has been very tolerant and does not really get involved in sexual matters,” Michaud wrote in an e-mail.

The article also notes, interestingly enough, that European parents don’t really have to worry quite as much about their children seeing sex and nudity on TV, partly because “[s]traightforward messages on how to prevent STDs and teen pregnancy help offset the impact on teens of sexually explicit ads, movies and other mass media.” Wow, just think, with better education we could halt the country’s long march towards total moronification. Wouldn’t that be nice.

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