TEENAGE pregnancy is still a prevalent issue in the country, not to mention in the Cordillera region. Good news is the decline of these cases in the area according to a recent report but the numbers remain high and alarming. Our response on the issue is focused on preventing early pregnancies through our programs on educating the youth, responsible usage of social media, and the promotion of contraceptives. The loophole is the lack of support given to young women once they get pregnant.
When teenage girls get pregnant, our culture indirectly says that these young women are at lost, stubborn, hard-headed, rebellious, imprudent, and even flirts. We always have our judgments. Due to this thought, women getting pregnant in their school age isolate themselves from the society and seek shelter and protection from their families. They drop out from schools mainly because of shame, to avoid being the subject of talks and the focus of bullies.
Since pregnancy is delicate due to their young bodies, they have to limit their activities. The question is, how capable are the families to provide the well-rounded support necessary for teen-agers who are pregnant or for teen-age mothers especially when the families are critical of the action of their daughter or sister or granddaughter?
Teenagers getting pregnant are placed at a risky situation due to the critical treatment they receive from others and due to a larger demand of the pregnancy and early motherhood stage. There is an apparent lack of social support especially from outside their families. Perhaps it is their own doing by limiting their association with other people but as part of the society they have to be taken care of. Since there is lack of support and there isn’t any sufficient attention given to them, it drives them away from the center of the society which makes them marginalized. Their self-esteem is negatively affected. They are delayed of their right to education and they have to deal with pregnancy which is new to them.
The burden of supporting the teenage mothers is left to their immediate families. Implication is, support given to young mothers belonging to impoverished families is inadequate particularly on financial concerns. Same goes with emotional support and giving advice. Well-to-do families can finance medical assistance provided for both mother and child while poor families cannot. The field is not even for a poor young mother and someone belonging to a rich family. The problem is, based on previous studies, most young women getting pregnant are poor. The government of course is doing what they can to assist by offering free medical check-ups, free vitamins and medicines but these are not of course enough especially since they have other needs aside from medical assistance.
In my current study on the support given to them, these young mothers are having a hard time financing even the sole needs of their babies. I am talking here of their milk, vitamins, nutritious food, sufficient clothing and conducive environment or shelter. They still rely on their families because they cannot work. Mothers are having difficulties receiving emotional support due to their limited contacts with other people. They have limited communication with their friends. More friends in fact have disappeared. They cannot go out to hang out with them because for other people this action is inappropriate. They are expected to stay in the house and look after their babies.
There is a need for the government and even private institutions to give their attention to this marginalized group of teen-agers. This I believe is aligned to the program of the department of education (DOH) in lessening mortality rate of newly born babies. Public and private institutions can create a program that will provide teen-age mothers financial assistance.
Young mothers especially those who have separated from their partners demand for financial assistance so that they can provide the essential needs of their babies. This is not condoning the act of teen-age pregnancy. This is ensuring that they raise their babies well and in the future become assets and not liabilities of the society.
Besides we all agree that the misdeeds of the mother have nothing to do with the child. Emotional support is also lacking hence there is a need to intensify the program of the department of social welfare and development (DSWD) in providing social workers and counselors that would address the emotional support provided for teen-age mothers with minimal fees. The school can also support by initiating a program tasking the guidance office to conduct seminars for teen-age mothers.
Without sufficient support to teenage mothers, children’s well-rounded development is curtailed. The poor families become poorer because they will have more people to feed while their income remains low. There is also the sad fact of inflation. The teen-agers might not finish education which deprive them the opportunity of employment. More families will become poor and children from these families may become sickly or worst die at their young age. The objective is for the mothers to get back in school, finish their education, and their children to grow up healthy and wise. This is all for the good of the society.