Babies having babies

The Commission on Population and Development said Friday that pregnancy among 15-19-year-old women in the Philippines saw a slight decrease from 2017 to 2018—or from 182,906 to 181,717.

But there is a grimmer finding: Pregnancy is on the rise among girls aged between 10 and 14—specifically, a 63-percent jump from figures in 2011 and 2018. Some 2,250 babies were born to mothers in this age group two years ago.

According to the commission, there are several factors responsible for the trend observed among younger adolescents and their older counterparts. These factors are both individual and institutional.

Babies having babies

Among the individual factors are the early onset of menstruation, lack of education, and exposure to risky behaviors on the internet and among their group of friends.

Meanwhile, the institutional factors include information dissemination and provision of access to family planning services.

Popcom chief Juan Antonio Perez III attributes the drop in pregnancy rates among the older group to institutional work.

For the 10-14-year-olds, however, greater involvement of adults and institutions may be needed. The approach should be cultural, he says.

A 2016 study, “Education, Earnings and Health Effects of Teenage Pregnancy in the Philippines” by Alejandro Herrin, found that early childbearing reduces an adolescent’s future earning capacity because it diminishes the chances of completing high school.

A lack of diploma results in a loss of P300 in income per day for young mothers.

It is clear that the government must aggressively push for the prevention of teenage pregnancy by strategically addressing the individual factors that contribute to it. For instance, parents and schools must make themselves more aware of children’s activities in and out of the home or classroom—specifically, online and within their social circles.

Risky behaviors are occasioned by lack of education and guidance, and adults must eschew the belief that not talking about sex is a way of protecting or shielding their daughters from harm. Quite the opposite, actually.

Meanwhile, the government must do its part by sustaining the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law down to the community level to reach as many young people as possible.

Perez, in an earlier statement, said that while the direct impact of such measures could be observed in households, they could make a dent on the macroeconomy, specifically by curbing poverty.

Reduction of unplanned pregnancies translates in to family savings, which could be allocated to other items—education, healthcare, livelihood—that could be seen as improvements in the quality of life and investments for a better future.

Children should enjoy their childhood and be given the opportunity to be deliberate about their life. Keeping them in the dark about the risks that lurk around them is not protecting them—it is making them vulnerable.

Topics: Editorial , Babies having babies , Commission on Population and Development , Pregnancy
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