Teen pregnancies ‘a national emergency’
The dramatic rise in teen pregnancies or children having children in the last decade should be considered “a national emergency,” said Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) executive director Juan Antonio A. Perez III.
This “national emergency” was in a news brief in the inside pages of this newspaper last Monday. A report by Marlon Ramos quoted Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara as citing Popcom statistics that showed that since 2011, pregnancies among 10 to 14-year-old girls rose by 50 percent, and that about 530 teenage girls get pregnant every day.
I spoke with Popcom’s Perez the other day and he stood by his statement that teenage pregnancies are indeed “a national emergency.” A silent one, if you may.
Why so? An obvious answer would be that pregnant teenage schoolgirls would be dropping out of school, and the likelihood of their going back to school is slim as they would become stay-at-home moms if they come from low-income families without paid extra hands to help in child-rearing. And even if they are raring to work, their lack of skills and education would prevent them from getting jobs with good pay. They are simply back to square one, unless some intervention comes their way during that early phase of teenage motherhood, like a back-to-school program tailored for them.
That is the immediate and least complicated situation they’d find themselves in, and that is an understatement. The situation could be worse, health issues among them, for their immature bodies and their children. We’re not talking morality stuff here, just wondering how girl-children can raise their own children.
The boys who got them pregnant are another story.
I searched for documents to support the “national emergency” scenario, and the ones from Popcom are not all that current as, say, last year’s. I do understand that research does take a lot of time, effort, expertise and funds and cannot be done at the wave of a wand.
The last jolting information on the rising incidence of teenage pregnancy was the 2014 announcement that said: “The percentage of young girls aged 15-19 who have begun childbearing had more than doubled within the past decade. This finding came from the fourth and latest round of the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality (YAFS 4) Survey released today by the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation.
“In 2002, the last YAFS survey (YAFS 3) found that 6.3 percent of girls 15-19 years old were either pregnant for the first time or were already mothers. The latest survey done in 2013 shows that this percentage has climbed to 13.6 percent; 1 in 10 girls aged 15-19 was already a mother while 2.6 percent were pregnant with their first child when they were interviewed in 2013. Among girls aged 15 when interviewed in 2013, almost two percent had begun childbearing. This proportion increases as age increases such that among those who were aged 19 when interviewed in 2013, 1 in 3 had already begun childbearing.”
“This result does not come as a surprise, especially if we link this with what we found regarding sexual behavior of young Filipinos today,” said Prof. Maria Paz Marquez, the main author of the paper on adolescent sexual behavior.
When will the YAFS 5 survey be conducted? YAFS is described as the only survey of young people that is representative at the national and regional level.
Interesting are the findings of UP PI’s Marquez titled “#Sexy Time: Sexual Behavior of Pinoy Young Adults,” where she presented levels of exposure through media to pornography, sharing of sex videos, recording sex videos, sex with someone the youth met online, and phone sex.
Social media and the internet have indeed become the main source of information, if not of virtual sexual gratification, for many young people. And yet, despite the wealth of information available on any topic online, helpful information on sex and the teenager might not be what the teens are eagerly looking for. Something else online lures them and leads them to practice risky sexual behaviors that have unwanted results.
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