Dutch teenagers are having sex for the first time at a later age but are also less likely to use contraception, according to a new report by the Rutgers Foundation financed by the health ministry.
The report, in which 10,000 youngsters aged 13 to 24 took part, found that half of Dutch teenagers had had sex by the time they reached the age of 18.7, compared with 18 five years ago and 17 in 2012.
The rise is neither positive nor negative in itself but “if you look at the possible reasons why, then it is worrying,” head researcher Hanneke de Graaf told the Volkskrant. “It is as if youngsters are waiting to have sex because they are worried about doing something wrong.”
Nevertheless, youngsters give their sex life a score of seven out of 10 and nine in ten were happy having sex with their most recent partner.
While four in five youngsters used contraception the last time they had penetrative sex, use of the contraceptive pill has plummeted from 76% to 46% since 2012. The number of girls using an IUD has risen from 6% to 21%.
However, one in five girls in the 2023 survey do not use contraception, compared with one in 11 in 2012. And among those having casual sex, 40% of boys and 46% of girls did not use a condom.
In addition, 4% of boys and 20% of girls said they had been forced to take part in a sexual act that they did not want to do, which is double the 2012 figure. And over half the girls and 23% of the boys said they had had to deal with some form of sexual behaviour against their will, which is up slightly on 10 years ago.
The foundation now plans to study this issue further. ‘If the increase is because youngsters are more aware of their boundaries, it is a positive thing,” De Graaf told the VK. “But of course it is not good that this is so prevalent and makes it even more important to check that your partner really is in for sex.”
The research also shows youngsters’ views on homosexuality have improved, with only 24% of young men saying they did not approve of two men kissing in the street, compared with 52% 10 years ago. One in 11 girls was disapproving, compared with just over a quarter 10 years ago.
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