Sorsogon youth learn the risky realities of being a teenage parent
With more than 500 female adolescents aged 15-19 giving birth every day, the Philippines has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates among ASEAN countries. The Philippine government declared it as “National Social Emergency”.
Concerned with this situation, World Vision and key local government offices in Bulan, Sorsogon, convened more than 200 youth to discuss about teenage pregnancy, its physical, emotional and mental impact to the young parents, especially to the mother.
Sybelle Delmo, World Vision’s Child Protection and Participation Specialist for Luzon and a registered social worker, said teenage pregnancy happens because of many factors. “There’s a big chance for female teens to get pregnant at an early age if she has weak family relationship or support. Poverty is also a reason. In our country, marriage is sometimes thought of as a way out of one’s predicament. Another reason is when an adolescent has inadequate or over knowledge about safe sex.”
Getting pregnant at a young age has physical consequences not just to the mother but also to the baby, according to Ana Tinampay, a registered nurse. “The teen mother may experience difficult labor and under nutrition. The baby may contact congenital malformation or become malnourished,” said Tinampay, a nurse at the Bulan Sorsogon Rural Health Unit.
Being a parent at an early age also has negative consequences to both the young mother and father. “Teenagers who experienced teenage pregnancy are at greater risk for mental health concerns than older parents,” Professor Mark Glenn Tejada from Bulan National High School told the youth online. “Both young mother and father may suffer depression called postpartum depression, and as teenagers, since you have responsibilities now, you will never get to do the things you love doing when you are not yet a parent.”
Pastor Roger Duran, a teacher at Bulan National High School and Sunday School Teacher at First Missionary Baptist Church, also advised the youth to be more active in church, where they can also get emotional support from members. He left the youth the Bible verse that can be found from 2 Timothy 2: 22-26 which encourages individuals to pursue righteousness and rely on God to conquer the “…evil desires of youth…”
Jane, a child participant, shared that the online seminar serves as an eye-opener for youth like her. “This is my first time joining this kind of program. It is an eye-opener for us teenagers to be aware of our actions. Indeed, true love waits. No need to rush things. Let us all wait for the perfect time! Thank you, speakers!”
The United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) 2020 policy report entitled Eliminating Teenage Pregnancy in the Philippines, the country “…has 47 births annually per 1,000 women aged 15-19, higher than the average adolescent birth rates of 44 globally and 33.5 in the ASEAN region.”
World Vision continuously raises youth awareness on possible risks of being a teenage parent through its Pinoy Abstinence and Risk Avoidance (PARK) seminar, and other youth-related forums.