By Victor Layug
This is the sixth in a series of Mulat Pinoy’s coverage of selected topics from the 1st National Summit on Teen Pregnancy, conducted on September 14, 2012 at the Heritage Hotel, Manila.
Perci Cendaña, Chairman of the National Organizing Committee of the 1st National Summit on Teen Pregnancy, was introduced by Tuesday Vargas, as it was Perci who, in turn, invited Ms. Vargas to the event.
Perci began by agreeing with May-i Fabros when she said that “children should not bear children.” Perci then presented the results of their national youth assessment study, which basically asked young people to describe their perceptions, thoughts and considerations in the hopes of developing a more meaningful and spot-on solution to the problems facing the youth today, particularly in regards to teen pregnancy.
First, it has to be accepted that culture is changing. Today’s culture, which is often compared to the vastly different culture of the youth 20 years ago, is the way it is most probably because of the state of today’s information technology. The amount of access that the youth has to information is astounding, yet not all this information is correct, scientific and reliable. If someone posts something which is not factual on any social network, and one of their contacts takes that info as truth, then spreads it, then that’s misinformation right there, confirming the old “Garbage In, Garbage Out” adage. This is the downside of information technology.
This wide array of information also entails a wide variety of interaction available to today’s youth, which also has adverse effects. Their survey states that most initial sexual encounters happen at home when parents are at work. This would not have been the case 5-10 years ago, but in this day and age wherein both parents are forced to work in order to make ends meet, the house is often left to the young ones in the family.
Among those aged 15-17, more than half are involved in some form of social networking that greatly impacts their behavior, no longer making it difficult to ‘hook up.’ This also leads to a greater sense of privatization, with most youth having access to cell phones and laptops that usually bring with them a social life. This takes into consideration that 74.5% of those aged 15-17 are already looking for romantic relationships, and 36.7% of those aged 15-17 think that it is acceptable in this day and age to engage in sexual encounters outside of wedlock.
There is, however, a silver lining to this dark cloud of truth. Eighty-one percent of those aged 15-17 believe that they need to be given reproductive health education to protect themselves from risky behavior, with 48% of that 81% believing that proper education must be given during elementary years and 78% believe that it must be given in high school. However, seeing as how that there are girls as young as age 10 getting pregnant, high school may be too late.
Young people are capable of making the right decisions given the right information, and we need to trust them to make the right decisions to prevent early pregnancies and the spread of STDs once they have access to correct medical information. Some critics say that once the youth have been given this information they will become more promiscuous and engage in more sexual activities, but the youth respond by saying that they need information more than ever to know how to protect themselves.
Times are changing, and it is difficult to chart what young people are thinking. While others believe that values education is appropriate, it is insufficient. While there is always a need for values education in schools, the youth also need scientific information so as to better prepare them against possible STDs and pregnancies.
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