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Disease thrives in liberal climate

A recent study of sex education in the Netherlands by Joost van Loon (2002) shows that the single most relevant factor in affecting the sexual behaviour of young people is their family set-up.

In families where parents are married 13 per cent of 13 to 15-year-olds were sexually active.

In single-parent families the figure was 26 per cent. For children living with neither parent the figure rose to 35 per cent.

Over the past 10 years sex education in the Netherlands has become compulsory and is, generally, quite explicit. Teenage conception rates and sexually-transmitted infections have risen over the same period against all liberal expectations.

Overall Dutch teenage conception rates and sexually-transmitted infections are still lower than in the UK but for how long? Are there not lessons to be learnt from this?

John de Waal

6 Briar Avenue

Norbury

London SW16

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