In both Europe and America, the age at which most people start having sex is 17. But that’s where similarities about teen sexuality begin and end. Teen pregnancy rates in the United States are three to six times higher than in Western European countries. This means that one out of every three American teenage girls becomes pregnant at least once before she reaches the age of 20. (Even poor countries like Algeria, Sri Lanka, China, and Estonia have lower teen birth rates than we do.) The gap between Europe and the United States for sexually transmitted diseases is even greater—gonorrhea and chlamydia rates are 20 to 30 times higher here than in the Netherlands, for example.
Germany’s approach to safe sex is based on behavioral research showing that honest and humorous messages about sex are more effective than scare tactics. Their HIV rate is six times lower than ours.