Where do they do it?

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An intriguing question with equally revealing answers. But first, let’s backtrack a bit to my column two weeks ago titled: Unitown and Teen Pregnancy.

In July this year, the implementing rules and regulations of R.A. 9710, otherwise known as the Magna Carta of Women was approved. A controversial provision of the law, as far as Catholic and private institutions are concerned is that which “forbids all forms of discrimination against women, including schools’ refusal to grant enrollment or work to unmarried pregnant students and teachers.”

There’s an unwritten rule adopted by most, if not all academic institutions, prescribing that when an unmarried student gets pregnant, she has to leave school. This prescription is not put down in black and white, except I understand, in the Silliman University College of Nursing. I was told by a member of our Administrative Council that the reason for zeroing in on SU nursing students is because they are “supposed to be models of virtue.” Aren’t all girls supposed to be models of virtue?

In the week following the publication of my column, I instructed my students in PE 1, composed mostly of entering freshman students, to read it and be ready to react to it. I would like to share with you the following results of a survey I conducted among these students because the information they provided could be a source of guidance for us academicians, parents and local government officials, on what we can do to minimize or prevent unwanted teen pregnancy which could wreck havoc on the future of our young people.

I asked the students to respond to three questions:

1. What can we do as your teachers in Foundation University to help and prevent you from the risks of unwanted teen pregnancy?

2. Considering only the students of Foundation University, not your acquaintances outside, do you know of anyone who is at risks?

3. If you answered yes, where do they do it?

In the required textbook that we are using in PE 1, Foundations of Wellness, there’s a chapter on the subject of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, hence, I thought that the survey I conducted was relevant and pertinent to the course.

There were a total of 154 respondents, 56 male and 98 female, ages 16 to 22, in three classes which meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I didn’t poll three other classes scheduled on Monday and Wednesday.

Let’s first consider their responses to questions numbers 2 and 3.

Among the male respondents, 20 (35.71%) answered “Yes”, 16 (28.57%) said “No”, and 20 (35.71%) did not respond to the question. The females responded this way: 48 (48.97%) “Yes,” 38 (38.77%) “No”, and 12 (12.24%) had no answer. I must hasten to add that the number and percentages do not necessarily reflect the number of girls at risk because the respondents could be familiar with and referring to the same person. Nevertheless, the fact that almost half of the female respondents said that they are aware of girls at risk of getting pregnant because they are into premarital sex is a cause of concern.

Where do they do it? Here are their answers: (a) at home when parents are away, (b) boarding houses, (c) lodging houses, (d) hotels and motels, (e) beach resorts, and (f), “at the backof the house and the reason the girl does not get pregnant is because she takes pills,” as one girl puts it. Others said that they “don’t know.”

Majority of the respondents, in response to question number 1, recommended that they should be provided with sex education and guidance by their teachers (“being second parents”) not to get into a situation of unwanted pregnancy. And here is the gist of an interesting recommendation given by six girls: if they (girls) get into a situation where “it can no longer be avoided, the girls should be given contraceptives.” Several of the boys were more direct: “Give the boys condom!”

An FU official emailed response: “My concern about this aside from my own personal views, is that if we go ahead and have the real and mature sex education and provide contraceptives to our students we may, and I would believe will, decrease our student enrollment because parents, no matter how true it is that their children are sexually active, will not agree to this.”

He further adds: “The conscious choice made by a young boy or girl for abstinence can only be accomplished through decades of consistent, rational edification. That is how it has become possible for the youth here in the USA to make the choice between abstinence or contraception. Decades, let start now with the real and mature education sans any religious, emotional and social baggage.”

I pondered over all these information and views expressed by our students and administrators and I came up with the following recommendations:

1. Provide sex education and counseling to the students. Their attendance in these sessions should be with the consent of the parents.

2. In cases where girls get into an intimate relationship with their boyfriends, and seek assistance in obtaining contraceptives, with their parents consent, they should be provided with contraceptives.

3. Parents should make sure that when they leave their home, their daughter who is left behind is not alone. Ditto for the boy because as one girl said, the boy will ask the girl to come over to his house.

4. Owners of boarding houses that admit both male and female student-boarders should exercise their role as “loco parentis” and make sure that opportunities for intimacy among their boarders are prevented.

5. The Provincial and City governments should consider enacting ordinances which will prevent unmarried young couples from checking in lodging houses, hotels, motels, beach resorts and similar establishments.

It may be an opportune time for the Consortium of Higher Education in Negros Oriental entered into by the heads of the academic institutions in University Town, to sit down together and come up with a strong and common stand to address this social problem which could render for naught all our work and investments in the education and formation of our young people in this part of our country.


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