Thursday, November 23, 2006

Anglo Youth - 'Respect' and Sexuality

It has been interesting to note that New Zealand seems to have the same issues with the youth of today as does Britain. I read a column yesterday in which a Kiwi journalist (Pamela Stirling) was praising Britain's approach with the use of Asbos for anti social youth. The column was titled 'It's all about Respect', and the word was used more than once. Not very subtle in her admiration of the British prime minister.

Meanwhile the same magazine had an article on teenage pregnancy. Evidently New zealand has the third highest rate in the world, Britain being second, and the highest I believe is the United States.

I have long wondered as to why English speaking countries seem to have this problem and have yet to come to any firm conclusions. Conservatives tend to blame it on too much liberalism while liberals tend to blame it on too much....Conservatism!

I think this is far too simplistic from either view. The Netherlands is often praised by liberals and pro choicers for it's liberal approach to youth sexuality and it's sex education programme, and they point to the fact it has a low rate of teenage pregnancy. But again, I don't quite see this. Why does Britain's rate of teenage pregnancy continue to rise in spite of the programmes of the last few years? Surely if the assertions made about the Dutch stats were true the opposite would be happening!

The reasons behind the Dutch stats are most probably of a cultural nature. For one thing - The Netherlands have a stronger family structure in their society than does Britain. The reasons behind the phenomena in the English speaking nations may also be economic - the monetarist policies they have been subjected to has contributed to greater social atomisation and weakened traditional family structures, families which help children grow through puberty and become adults. Children in lower socio economic groups also tend to have sex at an earlier age.

I'm a cynic about the usefulness of sex education as is currently constituted. If it is failing in it's aim it is simply not working and another approach needs to be taken, the format needs to change. Perhaps schools should also recognise the pressure children are often under to have sex before they are emotionally mature enough. Negative sexual encounters can emotionally scar youth and sometimes blight their adulthood (needless to say girls being more affected by this then boys, some of whom are taken advantage of by older men). It is difficult what with the sexualisation of children in our culture, but teachers and parents should try to express firmly that children should not capitulate to the pressure if they do not feel ready to have sex.
Many young girls have sex not because they want to but because they wish to placate their male partners, fearing the relationship may end otherwise. This is one area in which feminism has made no impact and I am doubtful if it ever will, experience telling me that men will always be men. So it may simply be down to women and girls to be firm and give boys and men a message that will be clear enough for them to hear.

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