PopCom urges parents to discuss sexuality with teens during quarantine

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) asked parents to spend quality time with their teens, monitor their online behavior, and open up conversations about sexuality during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and other parts of the country.

“The [enhanced community quarantine] presents a rare opportunity for parents and their teenage children to discuss matters openly pertaining to growing up, and perhaps go beyond their usual conversations by slowly building up dialogues about sexuality," PopCom Undersecretary Antonio Perez III said in a statement on Friday, April 3.

"PopCom strongly believes it is better that adults initiate the chats, rather than their children sourcing their knowledge on sex and sexuality from their peers or worse, the internet," he added.

These conversations, said PopCom, may help prevent early sexual encounters and teenage pregnancies.

The statement cited a 2013 study titled "Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality" that found that half of Filipino youth (61% females, 57% males) are exposed to the internet.

The study also found that there were high incidences of exposure to pornographic videos among the youth from Caraga (66.7%) and the National Capital Region (66.2%). Exploring explicit websites was more pronounced among the youth in NCR (36%) and Zamboanga (33%).

Questions about sex were the topics most searched on the internet, said the study, and the internet gives access to young people to learn more about topics they may be embarrassed to ask about.

“We at PopCom believe that the first communication on human sexuality should still be between humans: parents and children at that – instead of interactions by our kids over the internet,” said Perez.

He added: “And as heads of families, there is one sort of epidemic where we can try and ‘flatten the curve' – that is, of teenage pregnancy. As we protect our family from the COVID-19 infection, it is equally important that we protect our children from the threats of risky behaviors.”

Luzon was placed on lockdown March 17 in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 57,474 people in 188 countries as of April 4. The lockdown is set to end on April 14 unless extended or lifted earlier. – Rappler.com