Social Climate

A survey of adolescents about RH

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Last December 4, SWS presented to the media the general findings of a special new survey, commissioned by the Forum for Family Planning and Development (www.forum4fp.org), of adolescents in the National Capital Region (NCR) on the subjects of population, reproductive health (RH), HIV-AIDS and gender. For this project, SWS interviewed 600 persons of ages from 15 to 19 on Oct. 26-28, 2012.  The sampling error margin is plus/minus 4 percent for adolescents in NCR.

Many of the questionnaire items had also been used in earlier surveys by SWS in 2009 in Cebu City, Cebu province, and Parañaque City, and in 2008 in the City of Manila as well as nationwide.  In addition, there was a 2009 noncommissioned survey by Holy Name University in Bohol that used the same SWS questions.

The previous surveys were addressed either to adults (age 18 and up) or to persons of reproductive age, with no upper age limit. The new 2012 survey in NCR was the first one to be focused specifically on adolescents—who would all be eligible to vote by 2016 or earlier.  It finds their opinions very similar to those of older persons as found in the earlier surveys, with a few exceptions mentioned below.

Among the findings of the new survey on adolescents:

Population growth. Sixty-seven percent see population growth as a problem in their city, 79 percent call it a national problem, 81 percent say it worsens poverty, 71 percent say it slows down economic growth, and 72 percent say it worsens environmental degradation.

Eighty-eight percent want their city to have a policy on RH and family planning, 83 percent say there should be a law about these things, 56 percent say that the Church interferes in the affairs of government on the issues of RH and family planning.

Eighty-seven percent want the government to provide free supplies or services to the poor who wish to use any family planning method, 84 percent say that the spacing of births by three or more years is good for the health of mothers and their children.

More than four-fifths would like both schools and parents to provide better education and information about health, sexuality and family planning to the youth, and would like young unmarried women, if pregnant, to still get parental support and continue their schooling.

HIV-AIDS. Eighty-seven percent would like parents to be educated on RH and HIV-AIDS, 74 percent would like them to talk to their youthful children about these matters.

But many have biases against HIV-positive persons—35 percent would not want them as neighbors, and 50 percent think they have no right to privacy regarding their conditions.

Violence against women (VAW). Fifty-three percent say that VAW in their community is declining.  There is strong insistence that any VAW should be reported to the police or proper authorities (92 percent), and that the city should have a center or office to attend to cases of it (93 percent).

The abortion issue. Forty-three percent of adolescents say that using condoms, IUDs and pills is considered abortion—this is a deviation from the earlier surveys of adults or reproductive-age persons, which all had majorities saying that those devices are not abortion.

Another 43 percent of adolescents say there should be a law requiring government to distribute those devices to people who want to avail of them.  Whereas, in the earlier surveys, the percentages of adults favoring such a law were in the 60s and 70s.

Eighty-three percent call for government to teach family planning to the youth, 56 percent deny that it leads the youth to sexual promiscuity.

The RH bill. Seventy-eight percent of adolescents are aware of the RH bill, 64 percent are in favor of it, 69 percent call its passage important.

Of adolescents registered to vote: (a) 28 percent say their senatorial votes will be for RH supporters and 6 percent say their votes will be for those opposed; (b) 29 percent say their congressional vote will be for an RH bill supporter and 7 percent say it will be for one opposed.  For the balances from 100 percent, the RH bill is irrelevant to their votes.

(See also “SWS January 2010 Module for the Forum for Family Planning and Development: 38% will vote for candidates who favor the RH bill; only 6% will vote for those who oppose it,” SWS media release, 3/11/2010, www.sws.org.ph.)

Sixty percent of adolescents say that their mayor supports the RH bill and only 11 percent say he/she opposes it, 57 percent say that their vice mayor supports it and only 12 percent say that he/she opposes it, 55 percent say that their congressional representative supports it and only 13 percent say that he/she opposes it. The balances from 100 percent are those who don’t know the stances of these officials.

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Hunger in the family. Whenever relevant, SWS examines hunger in the family, even without being commissioned to do so. In the new NCR survey, 29 percent said that their families had experienced hunger at least once in the past three months, on account of having nothing to eat.

The prevalence of hunger was 23 percent among those from families of 1 to 4 members, 24 percent among those from families of 5 or 6, 36 percent among those from families of 7 or 8, and 45 percent among those from families with 9 or more members.

The strong vulnerability of large families to hunger can be seen in very many surveys. Poor people know it very well.  They don’t deliberately intend to have so many children. They just lack the economic means to attain what they desire.

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Contact SWS: or mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.

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