CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Education and the Population Commission (PopCom) here have raised the alarm over the steep jump in the number of young high school students who got pregnant in the first half of the school year in 2019.
Dr. Myra Yee, medical officer of DepEd Northern Mindanao (Region 10), said that data showed that 586 teenage students got pregnant between June to December 2019.
“That is like there are 3 teenage student pregnancies each day,” Yee said, during a PopCom press briefing here on Monday, March 10.
DepEd data showed that Northern Mindanao has 1.3 million students from elementary to high school enrolled in some 2,500 public and private schools.
Of these, there are 307,900 junior high and 72,542 in senior high school students in public schools. In private schools, there are 49,874 junior high and 70,201 in senior high school students.
Yee said that these numbers are alarming considering that these students are minors and their bodies are not yet fully developed for child-bearing.
“We are losing precious teenagers who could have a bright future,” Yee said.
Among the biggest factor for these pregnancies is the heavy influence of the internet and social media. “Almost everyone is influenced by social media. The easy access to internet plays pivotal role why this students are into early sexual encounters,” Yee said.
Other factors attributed to the early sexual encounters of young girls were human nature, vices (drugs, alcohol, tobacco), peer pressure/influence, broken family, environment and economic.
Early teenage pregnancy was also the biggest factor why young girls leave school, causing a 60% of dropout rate in Region 10.
DepEd and Popcom have agreed to work together for reproductive health and sex education in a bid to to solve the problem. PopCom Northern Mindanao Director Jeremias Gupit said that ideally they would want the youth to delay sexual encounters.
“We work with DepEd together to educate our students on the impact of teenage pregnancy and its effect to society,” Gupit said.
“When we have teenage pregnancy, students drops out of school, leaving you with small chances in getting a shot in life. Teenage pregnancy also leads to low mortality rate as the body of a child is not yet fully developed to bear a child,” Gupit said.
Gupit added that teenage pregnancies also leads to malnutrition of both mother and child.
DepEd and PopCom has trained 200 school nurses and teachers on comprehensive sexuality education , adolescent reproductive health in the most sensitive and age-appropriate approach.
in 2019, DepEd established 1,110 teen centers in elementary schools and 875 teen centers for high schools.
These teen centers discuss issues on mental health, national drug prevention education program, comprehensive reproductive health and sexuality education. These programs reach about 280,000 students.
Yee said that they would have to do more despite the challenges DepEd faces due to lack of personnel and bugetary constraints. “We will push this program even into the farthest school in the region,” Yee said.
Human rights aspect
Meanwhile, Pilipinas Palma of the Commission on Human Rights Region 10 said that the teenage pregnancies are also rights issues as the data of teenage pregnancies showed that there are 135 adult impregnators involved.
Palma said that these adult impregnantors could be suspect for staturory rape for impregnating a minor.
Palma said that they suspect that economic factors was also involved as they have reports of students lured into human trafficking for monetary rewards.
“There are reports of students frequents trucker’s stops (site) in Bukidnon,” Palma said.
Palma is referring to what is called as “Akyat Truck” (truck climbs) where minors are engaged in sexual encounters with truckers for a fee.
Palma also said that there were students who were lured into early sexual encounters in city centers for a fee.
In 2019, Rappler talked with Lalae Garcia of Tubaga Movement, a women and children’s rights group. She said that they were monitoring sexual predators in this city offering sex for a fee.
Garcia narrated how Filipino and foreigners enticed young students from the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS) into prostitution at the urging of their fellow students. Those fellow students were themselve enticed into sexual encounters.
Garcia showed a private Facebook page where students were “traded” or referred to by other sexual predators.
“You will just notice, students have high-end phones, clothing not ordinarilly within their reach,” Garcia said.
Palma said that these predators could be charged for statutory rape. “Sadly, very few filed cases of this nature,” Palma said.
Yee said that they were still waiting for the latest figures for the latter half of the school year which closes end of March 2020.
“Hopefully, the trend has slowed down,” Yee said. – Rappler.com
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