Talk about sex

I WAS saddened but not surprised to read that “Scotland has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in western Europe” (your report, 16 August).

A recent cross-national, comparative study of teenage sexual behaviour in five Western countries, published in Swedish medical journal Läkartidningen, shows that the number of pregnancies among teenagers is the lowest in France and Sweden.

The UK, on the other hand, has double Sweden’s amount. Sweden and France offer the most positive attitudes to sexuality, combined with a clear expectation that teenagers can make responsible decisions about sexuality and delay childbearing.

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Societal acceptance of teenage sexuality is reflected in open-minded sexuality education and easy access to contraceptive services. Furthermore, the link between teenage pregnancies and child poverty is well known, hence it is not surprising to find that the child poverty rate is just 4 per cent in Sweden but 17 per cent in Scotland.

It should also be noted that both Sweden and France are secular states, which no doubt has a positive impact on sex education in schools, the easy access to contraception and the resulting low teenage pregnancy rate.

Finally, being a Swedish national myself, I know that great efforts are made in Sweden to keep young people in education and employment and that Swedish teenage girls and young women have the opportunity and aspiration to plan their future, complete their education and establish themselves on the job market before they become mothers.

Veronica Wikman

Malleny Avenue

Balerno, Midlothian