An International Comparison of Adolescent Sexuality and SRE Policies



This chapter reviews international secondary evidence to provide an enhanced understanding of adolescent sexuality in the UK context and shows comparable trends worldwide. Both quantitative data and qualitative studies highlight the complexity and ‘perceived’ problems of youth sexuality across industrialised nations and how SRE has responded to prevent and address teen conceptions and STIs. SRE is broadly considered public policy (Lewis, 1998) which reflects broader cultural, social and political opinion. This includes commonly held assumptions and concerns about youth and family life, and general unease about cultural and socio-sexual transformations such as premarital sex (particularly in the US), rising levels of cohabitation and increased lone parenthood. These concerns are in the context of declining numbers of teenage pregnancies, conceptions and STIs across most nations (UNICEF, 2001; UNESCO, 2009), with rates remaining stubbornly high in some countries compared to others. The Netherlands and Sweden, for example, are amongst the five countries with the lowest teenage birth rates (alongside Korea, Japan and Switzerland), with fewer than 7 per 1,000 teen births (UNICEF, 2001). In comparison, the US has a teenage birth rate of 52.1 per 1,000 which is the highest in the developed world and approximately four times the EU average.


Sexual Health Teenage Pregnancy Adolescent Sexuality Sexual Knowledge Teenage Birth Rate 
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Copyright information

© Sharon Elley 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeedsUK

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