Thursday, September 03, 2015

Editorial by Ernesto T. Solidum

Early Sex Education, A Must

Mr. Harold Alfred P. Marshall, Regional Director, Commission on Population, Region VI ably presented and discussed the 4th research paper on “The Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS4) in Western Visayas in a public forum. Authored by Prof. Maria Paz N. Marquez and Dr. Arnission Andre C. Ortega of the Demographic Research and Development Foundation, UP Population Institute, it details sexuality of youth (15-24 years old), source of sex info, teenage fertility and knowledge about HIV/Aids. They are categorized as non-risky and sexually risky behavior that could influence their lives either temporarily or permanently.

Western Visayas in 2010 had a total youth population of 1, 398,701 or 7.8 percent of total country population of 18 million. YAFS survey had been conducted in 1982, 1984, 2002 and 2013. The funding came from the Australian Government, UN Population Fund (UNPF), DOH and Philippine Council for Health, Research and Development (PCHRD). A total of 19,178 respondents from all over Region 6 participated covering broad spectrum of youth in their age bracket, gender, status, beliefs, and others.

Key findings show that two-thirds of youths were dependent on their parents exemplified by their being unemployed (8.2%), idle (11.0%), having live-in partner (12.8%) rather than formal union (5.7%) and schooling (36.2%). The rest (25.0%) were working on some decent jobs.

A great percentage was wired to electronic gadgets (75.8%), watch TV regularly (80.7%) and do physical exercises at least 2-3 times a week (54.6%). However, in the daily menu of youths are junk foods from fast food restaurants and street corners (56.0%) which could inevitably lead to lifestyle diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Obesity is gaining ground among teenagers as they become glued to smart phones, laptops, personal computer and TV.

It is lamentable that 46.1 percent did not have accurate information about sex. There is an urgent need of sex education probably starting from Grade V where kids are keenly interested about birds and the bees.

Those who cannot get them through formal sources took advantage of cheap DVD’s, internet cafĂ© and sex magazines. A negligible percentage though got actual sex experience from a friend or Fubu.

A very significant percentage (38.0%) had sexual experience on account of being early starters. The mean age of first sex is 17.6 years from males and 18.1 years for females. Majority of male youths (22.4%) had sex before age 18 while it is 20.5% in females.

The proportion of youth who have engaged in sex before age 18 have been increasing from 9.2 percent in 1994 t0 22.4 percent in 2013 among males and from 6.1 percent in 1994 to 20.5 percent in 2013 among females.

Reckless behavior was shown when 87.6 percent of first premarital sex encounters were unprotected against unintended pregnancy and or STD’s. As a result, 10.9 percent of females aged 15-19 are already mothers. Youths quit school when they get pregnant just to avoid being butt of jokes. A related NSO report, Aklan in 2013, shows that 48.0 percent of childbirths were born out of wedlock.

In 2013 only 79.4 percent of youths have heard of HIV/Aids. Devoid of any accurate information about the deadly disease, misconception abounds namely: reduced incidence when having sex with one uninfected partner, using condom, AIDS is curable and surprisingly majority (71.6%) felt themselves invincible to the disease. Contrary to widespread belief, AIDS has no cure. All its victims are young sexually active population. There are three ways to contact the disease namely: blood transfusion, unsterilized needles and breastfeeding.

There is a tripartite hold on young adults’ morality bearing namely: church, home and school. Sadly, they no longer exert powerful force as before since we have abnegated corporal punishment. Proverbs 13:24 states: “He who spares the rod hates his son but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Simply put, “spare the rod and spoil the child”.

What we are confronted now is that of rebellious children unafraid of parents and those in authority. Yes, we forged goodwill but harvested the wrath of a storm.

A comparative report shows that Muslim youth in ARMM seldom engage in risky or illicit sexual behavior. This is because premarital sex, extra marital sex, drugs and binge drinking are taboos or explicitly forbidden in the Koran and Muslim faith. Christians have their Bible but ignore or gloss over what it tells about lust, fortification, sodomy, adultery, and others. Essentially, Muslims practice what they believe and nurture.

The research on youth sexuality serves as eye-opener and challenge to policymakers, church leaders, bureaucrats and academe to come up with a strategy on how best to manage the youth and their expanding sexual appetite. Guidance, appreciation and love could work miracles as they become parents later on.

About 90 high school students from NVC, Regional Science High School, ST. Gabriel High School, ANHSAT, Kalibo Institute, Aklan Valley High School attended the forum at Nenette’s Garden on August 27, 2015. Other participants are Municipal Health Officers, Educators and members of Tri-media. Mr. Arturo P. Teodosio, Jr. of Aklan Provincial Population and Gender Office coordinated the holding of the forum. /MP

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