‘Educate, empower yourselves to have responsible sexual behavior, prevent early pregnancies,’ is the message of the Family Planning and Development as advice to today’s youth. According to data, one in every three aged 15 to 24 years has engaged in early sex. This translates to 6.2 million young people out of the country’s 25 million youth population who have engaged in sexual intercourse. This is according to the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality (YAFS) 2013 survey of the University of the Philippines Population Institute.
Moreover, the institute said the data becomes more worrisome with the information that
78% of those who engaged in sex for the first time were unprotected against the risk of pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infection (STI). Of this number, 73.4% are males and 83.8% are females who did not use any form of protection during their first sexual act.
The Forum for Family Planning and Development (Forum), the advocacy organization that works in communities to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, education and family planning, has an array of experiences on the ground talking with young people and educating them about what they can do in their life experiences.
Benjamin de Leon, president of the Forum, said the high spirits of youth on their first-time discoveries and adventures must be supported with the utmost consideration for their health and welfare.
“We share in the joy of young people who are starting to go through life wanting to have certain experiences, but we would like them to seek information first and understand their vulnerable conditions,” said de Leon.
De Leon emphasized that “it is better for young people to postpone sex and educate and empower themselves first with the right information so that they can have the right decisions early in life.” The YAFS survey said the number of sexually active adolescents and teens increased by more than 14 percent from almost 20 years ago in 1994 when the second YAFS was conducted. The proportion of youth is also increasing by 20%, a rate that has not changed for years in the population census.
But the number of boys and girls who are into sexual activity has narrowed with the following gaps: 35.5% of males and 28.7% of females in 2013, from 26.1% of males and 10.2% of females in 1994. Metro Manila and Central Luzon have the highest prevalence of early sex among youth with 40.9% and 39.1%respectively, with the lowest in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 7.7%. De Leon said the Forum conducts activities that promote awareness and understanding of sex, sexuality, reproductive health and rights to the youth. “We believe that as the youth population increases, we should also strengthen their education and empowerment and reach as many young people as possible,” he said.
Because of early sexual activity, one in 10 teen girls has begun childbearing: 8% were already mothers and another 2% were pregnant with their first child, according to the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey.
“Today, Valentine’s Day, we would like to tell young people that they have years ahead of them to venture into what they want to experience in life. We just want to appeal to them that there is a right time for it. Make yourselves informed and put this knowledge into practice so that you can decide better and have better opportunities for the development of your potentials,” adds De Leon.