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Teenage pregnancy had always been a cause for alarm in the Philippines, despite it being a country that is almost 80% Catholic. But as of recent, the Philippines had slowly increased its number of teenage pregnancies, resulting in the Philippines being the top country with the most teenage pregnancies among the six major Southeast Asian countries. From 1999 to 2009, teenage pregnancies had increased by 70%. There were 114, 205 cases of teenage pregnancy in the year 1999 and in the year 2009, there were 195, 662. According to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), the rate of teenage pregnancy in the country is at 3 out of 1,000 Filipino women that have ages between 15 to 19 years old. The Philippine Information Agency also added that teenage mothers gave over 11 percent of the 1.75 live births in the Philippines. A UNFPA 2011 annual report showed that there are 53 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in the Philippines. The 1988 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) said that 3.6 million of our teenagers, or 5.2 percent of our population, got pregnant. 92 percent of these teens had unplanned pregnancies and 78 percent did not even use contraceptives the first time they had sexual intercourse. Many of our youth are clueless today on sexual intercourse, leading to unwanted and unplanned pregnancies. Without a robust response from all stakeholders, the Philippines are on track toward a full-blown, national teenage pregnancy crisis.
Teenagers from poor backgrounds are disproportionately represented among pregnant teenagers. However, experts have argued that teenage pregnancy should be understood as a symptom of dire economic conditions rather than a cause of it. Teenage pregnancy perpetuates the cycle of poverty and inequality because most pregnant teenagers have no source of income and face greater financial difficulties later in life. This is because they drop out of school and are less likely to pursue further education or skills training. Most teen mothers end up dropping out of high school, because they do not have time for school anymore. They work for low wages to make money and support the child. Some teenagers try to stay in school to have a good image, so that other people in school do not look at them as a pregnant teenager but as just one of them. Most teens that had sexual intercourse wish they had waited longer and most teens and adults believe that it is important for teens to be given a strong message from society that they should not have sexual intercourse until they are at least out of high school. Other teens do what they have to do and give their full support to the child; they stay in school until close the time of their baby’s delivery date. When teenagers plan to have intercourse, they should think about whether or not they could handle a child in their life. “Each year, women around the world experience 75 million unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted pregnancy can happen for two main reasons: either the couple was not using contraception, or the method they were using failed. There are many reasons why people do not use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy, including lack of access to family planning information and services; incest or rape; personal or religious beliefs; inadequate knowledge about the risks of pregnancy following unprotected sexual relations; and women’s limited decision-making ability with regard to sexual relations and contraceptive use.” There are many reasons a woman may not want to have a child at a particular time in her life. One of the main reason why the youth are so clueless about sexual intercourse and its consequences are the fact that the youth is misinformed about sexual intercourse. Filipino teens nowadays, thanks to technology, are more exposed to sex from movies, the Internet, magazines, TV and other forms of media, which were not present during earlier times. They are exposed to this type of information without the proper knowledge on how to handle the input. It also does not help that most teachers and parents in school both feel as if they are inadequate to discuss the topic of sexual intercourse to the youth. The problem now that arises is that the barkada has a more profound influence than the parents do. A study shows that female adolescents who have friends who engage in sexual intercourse are more likely to engage in it compared to those who do not associate with such peers. The view of the adolescent on sex is mostly conformed through his/her peers.
Pregnancy is a gift. The baby is a miracle, a great gift and treasure from God. Pregnancy is not a sin neither a crime. It is merely a result of a consummated relationship; pregnancy may not be planned by man but has long been laid out in the perfect plan of our Creator. Pregnancy during the teenage years is a bombastic situation, one that comes unexpected. For a student facing unintended pregnancy, the physical, emotional and spiritual issues can seem overwhelming. Teenage pregnancy may have been the result of the lack of supervision from parents, though blaming is nonetheless helpful if pregnancy presents itself.
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