New Book Takes on Teens and the Culture of Sex

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Door in Soho, a teen center and health clinic, sex education, sex ed (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Sociologist Amy Schalet was born in the United States, but she grew up in the Netherlands. When she returned to U.S. for college, she was surprised to learn that most of her American-reared peers had never discussed sex with their parents. Most of her Dutch friends had open, long-running discussions with their parents on the topic. This discovery shaped Professor Schalet's research through graduate school and beyond. She's published her findings in a new book, "Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens and the Culture of Sex."  

Professor Schalet's work became well-known after she published an op-ed in The New York Times last June.

Comments [9]

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Dec. 16 2011 04:36 AM
Danielle S. from Ft. Campbell, KY

Maybe I'm from the Netherlands in a past life because this is the approach I have been using with my daughters. I was a teen mom at 17 and always make it a habit of talking to my daughters about sex and health. I know these conversations inform them and provide us with an open and caring relationship. It's the least I can do as a mother to protect my daughter's health!

Nov. 01 2011 03:55 PM
Sarah from NC

To the comment from Fred Trabulsi.

What does marriage have to directly do with long standing commitment and responsibly? Kim Kardashian just filed for divorce 72 days after her marriage and the divorce rate in America is 50%. How about we teach people to love and respect themselves, their partners, and how to make healthy, safe choices, whether in a marriage or outside of it. Talking to youth, working on health education, and having open communication is not tied to a narrow definition of marriage.

Nov. 01 2011 02:45 PM
Mark Bays from Shawnee, Oklahoma

Adolesence is a cultural invention of post-industrial cultures. Preindustrial cultures have only children and adults and adulthood begins just post pubescence. Those adults got married and had sex partners while in the age range now thought of as early adolesence. If you reached sixteen years of age and were unmarried, you were a spinster. Point is, humans are not built to remain sexually inactive for years after puberty. And...for the most part, they don't. It's just biology. We need to provide a culture wherein our children can behave rationally and responsibly and not pretend that thier fundamental nature can be set aside.

Nov. 01 2011 12:09 PM

Interesting: The states that voted Democratic in the last two presidential elections have the lowest rates of divorce and teen pregnancies. And the red states had the highest.

Nov. 01 2011 09:38 AM
mary from New Jersey

When my son was growing up I took every opportunity to talk about sex once he reached the age of 13 or 14. I usually talked about the consequences of sex, like contracting HIV or herpes or unwanted pregnancy. This opened up the conversation in a more indirect way, not so much about why not to have sex at a young age, but rather what some of the possible consequences might be. I think he knew my position about having sex in my home, and we never had to cross that bridge. I think open communication is so important and it allows them to ask questions too. I remember one day he and a friend were talking about what happens to a boy when an underage girl gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby. We talked about how that boy now had to be financially responsible for that baby. It could mean he'd have to get a job, maybe forfeit college, or a even a scholarship all because they didn't use protection. Very sadly his friend responded,"well you could just run away." This young boy was, himself, an adopted child who came from very similar circumstances. So communication can be very powerful and at least the child knows where you stand. Most young people want to know there are boundaries in life and they start at home.

Nov. 01 2011 09:25 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Exactly. They're not ready until they're married. I'm all for parent-child communication, of course. But there are a hundred reasons why there should not be sex before marriage, as heroic as such a committment is today. And men, as the writer said, are not hormone machines, and are romantic, and can be well satisfied just going out in groups and friendships. But they need guidance and encouragement and support.

Nov. 01 2011 08:19 AM
Fred Trabulsi from Brooklyn NY

As a director of a crisis pregnancy center I see many young lives that are shattered. We cannot talk about sex without morality. Amy Schalet the sociologist you had on this morning has it wrong. She kept saying 'when their ready'. They are ready only when a wedding ring is put on each others fingers. Until we get this right we will be continue to be in the downward spiral we are in. Our Creator gave us this beautiful gift for two people committed in marriage not ,'4 or 5 months' that was addressed on the show, for having children and growing in that special love between them. Let us not be fooled by the general trends as we see aborted babies, shattered lives, traumatized men and woman. We need to recognize God's law and love and act on it. Our society is saturated with everything we see is about sex. Toothpaste commercials,car commercials etc. We have to take much of the blame as to where we are today in such a promiscuous society... Parents need to be parents and take the high road.

Nov. 01 2011 07:41 AM
Michelle Williamson-Green from Massachusetts

I applaud Beth and her husband. Building a trusting relationship with their daughter while teaching her that sexuality is a healthy part of life is what we all strive to do as parents. Not easy, but certainly well done.

Nov. 01 2011 06:31 AM

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