"SEX, drugs and trolls" was the hashtag for the recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Education. It was an overt reference to the expression "sex, drugs and rock and roll" which was immortalized in the 1970's funk rock hit song with the same title. This expression was often associated with the decadent lifestyle of the followers of rock and roll music. At times, it is also made to allude to the excesses of youth.
The agenda in the "sex, drugs and trolls" hearing led by the chairperson of the committee Senator Bam Aquino were the implementation of the comprehensive sexuality education, drug abuse prevention content of the formal education curriculum and the teaching of social media responsibility. The logic to lump these issues together is the fundamental role and function of education in raising the consciousness of young people to promote responsible behavior.
The National Youth Commission (NYC) called the attention of the members of the committee to the alarming incidence of teen pregnancy in the country. Around 600 girls, 19 years old and younger, give birth every day or an average of 25 births per hour. The chairperson of the Senate Committee on Youth, Senator Joel Villanueva expressed grave concern on this alarming trend and underscored the need to immediately address this crisis in the youth sector.
Senator Aquino pointed out that boosting reproductive health (RH) education will combat teen pregnancies in the country. The Department of Education (DepEd) said the agency is implementing comprehensive sexuality education across the country. There are 179 RH learning competencies in the K-12 curriculum.
The NYC reported to the committee the findings of the 2015 National Youth Assessment Study which revealed that 4.5 percent of respondents said they have tried illegal substance. This roughly translates to 1.4 million young Filipinos. The agency recognizes the importance of law enforcement efforts to cut the supply chain of drugs. As important as the law enforcement approach is raising the consciousness of young people to curb the demand for illegal substance.
The NYC views drug use also as health and wellbeing concern, a major deterrent to youth development. Education should play a big role in inculcating awareness and values that would make young people resist drugs.
The Senate's investigation on abuses and misconduct online was prompted by the prevalence of misinformation and offensive language on social media. Veteran journalist Maria Ressa, a resource person in the hearing, explained the exponential growth of social media in the country. She also discussed how social media is being weaponized and used as a vehicle for hatred, fear and lies by paid trolls.
Social media literacy is key to encourage responsible media use. As an extremely necessary life skill in this day and age, this should be taught in schools. The education sector must catch up with the fast evolving online platforms to guide and protect young people.
On these three concerns, the role of education is to raise the consciousness of the youth and develop their critical thinking skills. Equipped with the knowledge and values, the youth will be able to make responsible decisions and actions (on sex, drugs and trolls).