Do conservative Christians in America really want to reduce teen pregnancy? Some say they do, but one test for whether a person's goal is what they claim it is whether they are willing to adopt tactics and solutions which are proven to work.
For example, it's a proven fact that Dutch teens have far fewer pregnancies than American teens. So if teen pregnancies need to be reduced, it would pay off very well to adopt some of the tactics and attitudes which work so well in Holland. In reality, conservative Christians will never do this -- and the reason is simple: teen pregnancy isn't nearly as big of a problem to them as they pretend.
Just how common in the coed sleepover in Dutch culture? A 2003 study "found that two thirds of Dutch fifteen to seventeen-year-olds with steady boy- or girlfriends are allowed to spend the night with them in their bedrooms." Yet the birth rate among American teens is a whopping eight times that of the Dutch (something the Dutch have managed to accomplish while maintaining a low abortion rate for teenage pregnancies). The rate of STDs among Dutch teens, too, is significantly lower.
Furthermore, Dutch teenagers are less likely than American teens to engage in sex outside a committed, monogamous relationship. To recap: Dutch teens are having safe sex in the context of loving relationships and under their own roofs, while American teens are engaging in alarming rates of unprotected sex in questionable relationships god knows where.
So, why the huge cultural divide, especially given how much time, energy, and money America funnels into the prevention of teenage pregnancy? Essentially, it boils down to this: the Dutch treat their teenagers' emerging sexuality as normal and healthy, and react accordingly. Contraceptives and reproductive health care are readily available. Conversely, in America we tend to treat teenage sexuality as a demon to be fought. We throw money into unrealistic abstinence-only education programs while simultaneously neglecting to educate our youth on their bodies and sexual health. We throw up barriers to birth control and abortion services.
Schalet believes that this can, in large part, be attributed to religion. Americans are far more likely to claim religious devotion that the Dutch. Shlalet also points to another interesting potential cause for the differing approaches to teen sexuality: the Dutch seem far more likely to validate their teens romantic feelings, whereas American parents tend to trivialize those emotions as "puppy love."
Source: Women's Rights [emphasis added]
I think it would be fair to say that the Dutch treat their teens with a decent measure of respect -- as people who are becoming adults and thus deserve a growing measure of autonomy in making decisions about their lives. They obviously don't have complete and total freedom in all things, but they are also getting more freedom than many of their American counterparts. Not only are they being given the freedom to make decisions, though, they are being given the tools necessary to make healthy decisions -- and that's exactly what people need if they are going to become healthy adults.
Unfortunately, I don't think it matters how much evidence is provided from other nations for better ways to deal with teens and prevent teen pregnancy. As Schalet notes, the difference between America and other nations lies with religion, which means that the problem for America lies with religion. So long as large numbers of Americans hold on to a religion which is anti-sex and anti-autonomy, there won't be any real improvements in man of our social problems.