By Gabriela Baron
The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) is encouraging parents and guardians to maximize the time spent with their children indoors by enhancing family bonds during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“The ECQ presents a rare opportunity for parents and their teenage children to discuss matters openly pertaining to growing up, and perhaps go beyond their usual conversations by slowly building up dialogues about sexuality,” Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III said.
POPCOM also warns parents about youth exposure to explicit material online, and advises heads of households to monitor their adolescents’ online activities as teens spend more time with gadgets.
“This makes teenagers potentially exposed to explicit content that may negatively influence their sexual maturation. It may also lead them later to consider early sexual encounters that may eventually result in teenage pregnancy,” the agency said in a statement.
POPCOM raised this concern in view of researches such as the Young Adult Ferility and Sexuality (YAFS4, 2013) study, which examined the open access of adolescents to online messages through various information and communication technologies.
The study revealed that more than half of Filipino youth (61 percent females, 57 percent males) are exposed to the Internet.
The YAFS4 also cited high tendencies of exposure to pornographic videos among youths from Caraga (66.7 percent) and the National Capital Region 66.2 percent), while exploring explicit sites are pronounced among the young in the National Capital Region (36 percent) and Zamboanga (33 percent).
The said study also affirmed that the web “offers young people the possibility to discreetly access information on issues that they may be too embarrassed to ask or talk about because of cultural reasons.”
Further analysis of the YAFS4 showed that “young adults who have been exposed to pornography or sexually explicit contents are more likely to engage in premarital sex and to have early sexual initiation, defined as sexual intercourse before age of 18.”
“While it is true that obtaining information online and via social media has become the norm, we do not want our young people getting their initial information on sex through the Internet without proper guidance and contextualization,” Perez reiterated.
POPCOM added that the first communication on human sexuality should be between parents and children, instead of interaction by teens over the Internet.
“As heads of families, there is one sort of epidemic where we can try and ‘flatten the curve’ — that is, of teenage pregnancy,” Perez ended.