Must We Fear Adolescent Sexuality?

Amy Schalet, PhD

In This Article

Editor's Note

There is a general fear and anxiety surrounding adolescent sexuality. The question is why? Must we fear adolescent sexuality? This question, the title of the following article, is one that Amy Schalet, PhD, has spent the past decade investigating. It has culminated in a masterful doctoral thesis and a book to be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2006. More specifically, Dr. Schalet has asked how is it that 2 countries similar in terms of wealth, education, and reproductive technologies have had the highest and lowest rates of teen pregnancy, respectively, in the Western world. The countries, of course, are the United States and the Netherlands, and the answer has surely been illuminated by her sociological inquiry into the construction of adolescence and sexuality within the white, moderately religious or secular middle class of the 2 countries--the sector of the population that in both countries has a dominant influence on healthcare, education, politics, and the media. In a series of articles for Medscape General Medicine, Dr. Schalet will discuss the results of her research. In this first article she shows us that the construction of adolescent sexuality is an active process of dramatization in one society and normalization in the other. Ultimately, the results of her research suggest a course of action for the American healthcare profession as it regards adolescent healthcare. We invite and encourage you to comment. Send email to


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