National Youth Commission: Pre-teen pregnancies on the rise

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  • Teenage pregnancy is one the rise in the Philippines
  • Seguerra suggests having specialized teachers for sex education
  • NYC is pushing for the lowering of age of consent for HIV/AIDS testing

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Pre-teen pregnancies are on the rise in the Philippines, a top youth leader said Tuesday.

National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Aiza Seguerra said this was an urgent problem, apart from the rise in teenage pregnancies.

"Filipino children gave birth to 40 babies each year over a three-year period," Seguerra said on CNN Philippines' The Source. "Etong 40 babies na to [These 40 babies are], born to (around) 10-year-old moms," he added.

Seguerra read the statistics, quoting Commission on Population executive director Juan Antonio Perez.

The data came from a new study by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) based on findings from 2011 to 2014. CNN Philippines could not confirm the findings with the agency as of publishing time.

"(Ito ay) mas nakaka-alarm ha, na akala natin, teenage pregnancy nuknukan na yun [It was more alarming, and we thought teenage pregnancy was the worst]. Nope," said Seguerra.

PSA statistics also show that teenage pregnancies rose by three percent from 2011 to 209,872 cases among 15 to 19 year olds in 2014. The long-term studies are released every five years.

Seguerra said that while the National Youth Commission then pushed for its advocacies to educate the youth, it was "obviously not enough," thus the need to improve the sex education program.

"Napaka-importante talaga na sa eskuwelahan mismo ang comprehensive sex education," said Seguerra.

[Translation: It's very important that comprehensive sex education is taught in schools.]

He even suggested that teachers specialize in sex education to avoid relying on teachers who may be resistant to the subject.

"Ang ibang subjects sa school like music, PE, may specialized teacher for that. Sabi ko, ba't hindi nalang tayo magkaroon ng specialized teachers for sex ed, kaysa ipipilit natin na ituro ng mga teachers na talagang very conservative?" said Seguerra.

[Translation: There is a specialized teacher for school subjects like music and PE. I said, what if we have specialized teachers for sex education instead of forcing conservative teachers to teach it?]

He added that the mindset change for conservative teachers would also take a long time.

When asked if NYC is seriously considering proposing specialized sex education teachers, Seguerra responded, "If it would help... sa mga tumataas na data na to [with this rising data], I would be open to all ideas."

Filipino youth 'more sexually active'

PSA found that one in 10 Filipino girls aged 15 to 19 were already pregnant with their first child, according to the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey released in 2014.

The agency reported that "initiation of sexual activity before age 18 is more common among young adult women with less education and those in poorer households."

Based on the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study on March 23, regional studies from the Commission on Population found that "most of urban boys in [Metro Manila] are exposed to pornographic materials and have already engaged in sexual activities."

Making HIV/AIDS testing accessible

Seguerra is also at the forefront of the National Youth Commission's HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, which hopes to make testing for the virus more accessible.

Under the law, those under the age of 18 are not given free HIV/AIDS testing without parental consent or guidance. Seguerra believes this discourages the youth from getting themselves tested, and wants the age of consent lowered to fifteen.

Related: Lower age of consent for HIV/AIDS testing - Aiza Seguerra

Seguerra acknowledged that a law was required to change this provision. Another alternative is to be studied is allowing for the child to be accompanied by another adult such as an understanding aunt or uncle.

"But of course that requires legislation. We're finding ways... we're looking (at) baka puwedeng proxy nalang [maybe there could be a proxy instead]," said Seguerra.

"Hahayaan ba natin na tuluyang magkasakit ang kabataan just because they are afraid? Hindi dapat," he said. "Hopefully magkaroon kami ng enough support not just from people in Congress, but ang suporta ng ating mga kababayan dito."

[Translation: Are we going to leave the youth to get sick just because they are afraid? We shouldn't. Hopefully we get enough support not just from people in Congress, but from our fellow citizens.]

National Youth Commission commissioner Percy Cendaña was part of a technical working group committee moving to amend the law.

"May movement naman," he updated. "We're happy na naliliwanagan sila sa explanations na binibigay namin sa kanila."

[Translation: There's movement. We're happy that the explanations we give them clarify their views.]