As a response to the growing challenges of teenage pregnancy, early sexual encounters, and other risky adolescent behavior in the region, the Commission on Population Region 7 partners with the local government units of Naga City and Bogo City in Cebu Province and Municipality of Larena in Siquijor Province to establish teen centers in these localities.
In the signing of the memorandum of agreement on September 19, 2016, POPCOM VII and partners commit to creating responsive programs and services for the young people, particularly in the prevention of teenage pregnancy by teaching young people to make responsible decisions on their sexuality.
Based on the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute, teenage pregnancy rose from 5.3% in 2003 to 13% in 2013. In 2015, the Department of Health’s preliminary report recorded 5,197 pregnancy among teenage mothers in the region.
According to POPCOM VII Director, Atty. Bruce N. Ragas, teenage pregnancy has a social implication such that it decreases opportunities for young people to become socially and economically productive individuals. He added that, early sexual encounters also increase the risk among young people to acquire sexually transmitted infections.
The teen centers will be the hub for services from both POPCOM, Department of Health, DSWD, DepEd and the LGU geared towards educating and empowering the young people with knowledge and skills to exercise responsible teen sexuality, avoid early sexual encounters, and prevent teenage pregnancy, STI, HIV and AIDS. Free counseling and health services provision and referrals will be one of the key features of the teen centers.
The cities of Naga and Bogo have converted part of their old municipal halls to teen centers which will provide services such as adolescent health and development orientations, seminars, as well as an area for games and fun learning exercises for the young people.
In Larena, Siquijor, the old municipal library was converted into a teen center designed to inform, educate and entertain young people so that they may have productive use of their time away from school. Mayor Dean Villa said that computer units with internet access will also be free for use among the teens. The mayor has also made part of the municipality’s sports gym into another teen center for games and other outdoor activities for the youth.
POPCOM VII Regional Director, Atty. Bruce N. Ragas said that in the light of the political will of the current administration’s support in the full force implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law, strengthened partnerships and increased stakeholder participation are called to address reproductive health issues, particularly among the young people in this country.