Extensive measure against teenage pregnancies pushed

BAGUIO CITY – The city council has approved on first reading an ordinance seeking to set forth policies that prevent teenage pregnancies and institutionalize social protection for teenage parents.

The proposed ordinance aims to bolster and augment existing programs of the city in order to curb the escalating number of teenage pregnancy cases more effectively.

According to the Commission on Population, 2,422 babies born in 2020 across Baguio and the rest of the region have teenage parents, recording an increase in teenage pregnancies by 46.43 percent from last year’s number of cases.

Alarmed by the sudden surge of teenage pregnancy cases, Councilors Mylen Victoria Yaranon and Levy Lloyd Orcales have proposed the said ordinance seeking the involvement of certain government agencies and offices as well as the barangays to intensify the city’s campaign against teenage pregnancy.

Under the ordinance, the CHSO shall be tasked to collaborate with the City Youth Development Office, Local Youth Development Council, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and other concerned line agencies and institutions for the crafting of educational materials that promote age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in schools and in the community.

Reflective of the realities of the contemporary individuals’ sexual behavior, the CSE materials shall be complementary to the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Law.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education is defined by the ordinance as the access to a full range of methods, techniques, and services that contribute to reproductive health and well-being of young people by preventing and solving reproductive health-related problems.

Designed to strengthen respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the CSE shall be a compulsory component of education to be integrated in all levels of learning with the end goal of normalizing discussion of sex and gender, adolescent sexuality, and reproductive health and removing the stigma on discussions about sex and sexuality.

To realize the integration of CSE into the curriculum, trainings for teachers, guidance counselors, school supervisors, and school nurses on CSE shall be facilitated by the CHSO in partnership with different agencies and institutions.

A CSE program for out-of-school adolescents and for those with special concerns shall also be initiated under this ordinance.

Moreover, the city’s barangay health workers shall likewise undergo skills enhancement trainings on consent, adolescent sexual and reproducive health, effective contraception use, disease prevention, HIV/AIDS and other more common Sexually Transmitted Infections, hygiene, healthy lifestyles, prevention of gender and sexual violence, and other necessary CSE-related topics.

The ordinance shall also mandate the following:

the establishment of functional local teen centers for adolescent health and development that will provide access to appropriate information relevant to CSE;

promotion of CSE on social media and other digital platforms; and

Access to reproductive health services for adolescents who are presently or currently engaged in sexual activities with proper counseling by trained service providers to ensure healthy practices and to protect minors from possible predatory exploitative practices.

The ordinance is a two-fold measure that also seeks to offer social protection to teenage parents in order to prevent further unplanned pregnancies and to ensure the well-being of the adolescents while assuming the responsibilities of parenthood.

The services for young parents include but not limited to the following:

Maternal health services including pre-natal, ante-natal, and post-natal check-ups and family-based delivery; post-natal family planning and counseling for either or both teenage parents; personal PhilHealth coverage (making it mandatory for teenage mothers to be PHilHealth members); training, skills development programs, and support to livelihood programs for the household of the teenage parents especially the indigents; and psycho-social support and mental health services for teen mothers.

Furthermore, pregnant adolescents shall have access to health care during their pregnancy, delivery, and post-natal periods. They shall attend free-of-charge post-natal classes on infant feeding and care, positive discipline, responsible parenthood, and safe sex practices.

The ordinance also puts emphasis on male involvement in the prevention of early and unwanted pregnancies, seeking to put into place necessary programs.

Other progams provided in the ordinance are the strengthening of social protection against sexual violence, regulating the access of minors to pornographic materials and obscene shows,preventing adolescents involvement in other risky behaviors leading to engagement in sexual activities, integration of a local program for the prevention of teenage pregnancy in Sangguniang Kabataan plans, and establishment of residential care facilties for disadvantaged women.

The proposed ordinance has been referred to the Sanggunian’s Committee on Social Services, Women, and Urban Poor for review and recommendations.  –Jordan G. Habbiling