This has taken me a bit longer as the amount of hits I got on the last post makes me a little nervous. On the other hand, this somehow has not motivated me to improve my thoughts. In the meantime, Heather has posted her thoughts. Abby has too.
Personally, I think that the sexuality and sexual promiscuity of Chilean youth is more blatant, in-your-face today than it was in the past. The media has had a field day trying to understand the new “urban tribes” and the underground parties. There has definitely been a decline in long term relationships and a serge in hooking up with strangers (or at least the idea of these has gained prominence). However, I am not sure that there is really more sex than before or that Chile was a sexually conservative country to begin with.
The New York Times’ article refers to “old” Chile as one of the most conservative countries in Latin America. I can see if someone just stopped by for a day or looked at the written laws of the country that they could think this. The country is more conservative in its color pallet than many Latin American countries, such as Dominican Republic or Guatemala. Grays and blacks abound; loud patterned clothing is rare. Housing, while colorful, is not flamboyant. Additionally, the laws of country reflect a conservative, religious, political view point. Up until 4 years ago divorce was illegal; people had to seek annulments. Abortion is still illegal. Sex education in the schools continues to be non-existing or inadequate. Teen pregnancy, while it may have risen among youth under 15, has been a huge issue for decades.
With the internet and these under 18-parties, kids have more open spaces to explore. Sexuality is being questioned and discovered. I am not arguing that the spaces are not the start of a sexual revolution. However, I think that the idea that the country was sexually conservative in the past is absorbed. I was a high school student in the 1990’s in Chile and in the US. My high school class in the states had 1 or 2 pregnancies out of 116 students. My high school in Chile had 5 or 6 pregnancies out of 90 students. Part of the problem is lack of accurate information about sex in Chile stemming from a lack of adequate sex ed in schools. The other problem is a lack of access to birth control. Free condoms are not available in Chile, pharmacists can choose to not distribute birth control. or, in smaller areas, can report to parents when students buy birth control.
I think the gut reaction that a lot of people have when they read the New York Times article is too worry about STDs. However, this risk, and the risk that people faced in my adolescence and before that, would be decreased if adequate, age-appropriate, sexual education was provided starting in elementary school.
Overall, I see nothing wrong with the trends. I think it has been particularly helpful for youth that do not traditionally fit in and have more questioning. I do, however, think that it is incredibly dangerous to not equip youth with adequate sex ed. Abstinence ed is not enough. Hoping they are getting enough and accurate information at home is not enough. Chile needs to get behind a comprehensive sex ed program before the 0.3% HIV infection rate and other STD infection rates increase.
Other posts of mine that might be of interest: