It's Complicated

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By Perci Cendaña

Youth Advocate

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


JUST like in a Facebook relationship status, teen pregnancy is complicated.

It's complicated because other than the health risks associated with early pregnancy (discussed at length in last week's column), it also impacts on the over-all well-being of teen mothers. This is the reason why the National Youth Commission (NYC) frames teen pregnancy in the context of youth development because it is clearly a development issue that directly alters the course of young people's lives in many big ways.

Pregnant teens go through so much stress. Most, if not all, teen pregnancies are unplanned and some are unwanted. At the onset, a girl's discovery of her condition results in immense mental and emotional anguish coupled with a heightened sense of guilt. She may be torn between continuing her pregnancy or to have it terminated. There are times, upon learning of her pregnancy, her boyfriend leaves her and she has to make this difficult decision alone. When her family finds out of her pregnancy, this is normally followed by conflicts in the home and the strong reaction of the parents that at times may even lead to violence.

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The stress experienced by a pregnant teen is further compounded by stigma and discrimination among peers, school, community, and even the church. Some private schools suspend students who got pregnant because they feel that they are not good examples. There are cases of pregnant teens barred from attending their high school graduation rites. Stress, stigma and discrimination further complicate the already difficult situation a pregnant teen is already in.

Stigma and discrimination continue even after she has given birth. And who would forget the Mandaue City incident where a 17-year old mom was berated and humiliated by a priest during the baptismal rites of her baby. These discriminatory acts make the already difficult situation of a young mother more difficult.

Teen pregnancy is restricting to development. It is one of the often cited causes for girls dropping out of school. In the 2010 National Youth Assessment Study (NYAS) of NYC, the youth themselves identify teen pregnancy as one of the main reasons not to finish school. A young mother specially if not from a middle class family would stop schooling to take care of her child. Imagine a girl who becomes a mother at 15 years old. If she drops out, she will not finish from high school. By the time her child is 5 years old and she is ready to enter the workforce, she would have reduced employment options and economic opportunities because of her low educational attainment. Leading to financial difficulties in the future, she may become part of the cycle of poverty. Teen pregnancy results in limited social mobility.

Teenagers should be in school, learning life's lessons while enjoying being young. A teenager's life drastically changes when she gets pregnant. She is abruptly pushed to adulthood because of the responsibility of bearing and raising a child. Because of this, something very valuable is taken away from her-- her youth. Teen pregnancy also robs a young girl of her youth.

According to the Youth in Nation Building Act, those 15-17 are considered as youth-children. The writings on the wall are clear. There is a very profound problem when someone becomes a mother while she is still a child.

-o0o-

Cordillera youth went all out for #FixSK. There was music, singing, dancing and painting. Young people expressed their urgent call to legislators for the immediate passage of SK reform through creative actions last August 12 at People's Park. Baguio Vice-Mayor Edison Bilog and Association of Baranggay Captains (ABC) President Michael Lawana were in solidarity with the call of the youth. NYC would like to thank all those who joined the Baguio-leg of the #FixSK national day of action.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 14, 2014.

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