Importance of sex education stressed amid report on rising teenage pregnancies

February 11, 2021 - 3:50 PM
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Some Filipinos emphasized the need for sex education for minors following the release of a report showing a rising number of pregnancies among girls as young as 10.

In a report released on Sunday, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) said that in 2019, the number of pregnancies among girls below 15 years old jumped by 7% compared to the previous year. It cited the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

This is equivalent to 2,411 girls who are still in pre-teen and early teenage years. This also means almost seven births daily within this age group, which is a three-fold increase since 2000.

Of these young moms, POPCOM also cited two 10-year-old girls who gave birth to their own babies despite being children themselves, one in Metro Manila and another in Southern Luzon.

Overall, the number of female minors who gave birth that year is 62,510, which is slightly higher than the 62,341 teenage pregnancies in 2018.

POPCOM further noted that 2019 would be the ninth year of continuous rise of teenage pregnancies since 2011.

The report elicited comments victim-blaming the young mothers.

Advocates, however, defended them and cited the possibility of these mothers being victims of child rape, assault and domestic violence. Cases of which became more rampant in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Facebook group called End RAPE Culture Philippines raised these concerns in response to the POPCOM report.

The group also noted that girls often bear the brunt of public judgment.

“Bakit ganito na lang lagi ang framing ng teenage pregnancies? Laging sa batang babae lang naka-focus. Pag tinignan mo tuloy sa comments, isang side lang halos ang sumasalo ng paninisi,” it said.

Consent and sex education

Trisha O’Bannon, co-founder of podcast NowOpen Philippines, also noted the need to teach girls about consent as part of proper sex education.

“Consent and sex education NEED to be taught at younger ages, as young as kinder to be honest. It’s still an issue because y’all refuse to talk about birth control and pregnancy and CONSENT!” she said.

Some Filipinos brought up the importance of sex education.

Some Twitter users also said that children bearing their own babies is not something to be praised.

“Can we normalize having a baby at the young age is not a blessing?” one user said.

In a statement on Monday, Gabriela Youth stressed that the surge of early pregnancies exposes the national government’s “neglect” to young women.

“Early pregnancy is a constant reminder of the government’s gross neglect to millions of young women. Young women deserve quality education, access to basic social services, regular jobs and living wages! Hold the government accountable!” the group said.

Gov’ts efforts

While the number of mothers within the 10 to 14 age group have declined, the overall figures of pregnancies among minors are still concerning, according POPCOM.

The agency said that it is working together with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to roll out their social support for these child to adolescent mothers.

“POPCOM and DSWD, together with other agencies, are looking forward to roll out this social protection program this year,” it said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, stated that she filed a teenage prevention bill that aims to provide support not only to the young mothers but also to teachers as well.

In 2018, the STAR reported that Education Secretary Leonor Briones approved a department order establishing “a comprehensive sexuality education policy aimed at providing students with appropriate life skills that can advance gender equality and empowerment, clarify their values and attitude and reduce risks related to poor health outcomes.”
“The Department of Education said the planned integration of an age-appropriate and culture-sensitive sex education in the basic elementary and high school curriculum will develop responsible Filipino youth who are aware of risks and issues involving reproductive health,” the report read.