Today's Punto
Today's Punto
No child’s play
By Bong Lacson

Feb 27, 2018

CHILDREN HAVING children. For so long, I have thought of this as some sociocultural peculiarity in remote mountain tribes or Amazonian denizens. Or something of a fallout from the hormonic explosion of sexually liberated Western teens.

How – at this age – could I ever be so naïve! Kids bearing kids has long ceased to be a phenomenon but is already a fact of life for as long. Yeah, right in my City of San Fernando.

Why, in 2017 alone, 17 percent of all pregnancies in the capital city were teenage pregnancies. That is, kids of 19 and below becoming mothers!

That “revelation” by the esteemed Dr. Leticia Cordero-Yap, chair of the city’s Council of Women, at the launch of Women’s Month last Monday shook my conservative moral moorings, to say the least.

The exact number – 950 teen pregnancies reported in the city last year – according to Dr. Carlos Mercado of the city health office – is even more shocking.

Shocking most is the report of a 9-year-old girl in one of the city’s resettlement sites giving birth. Where is this world going – or should that be coming – to?

Motherhood instantly snatched childhood out of this girl. A baby to feed, for a doll to play. What child care can ever be expected from a child herself needing parental care?

O tempora! O mores! Cicero’s lamentations of the times and the customs strike to the core. Or is it just me remaining medieval when everyone else is millennial?

Saan ako nagmula? Where did I come from? A kid’s all-too innocent curiosity every parent of my generation and the next dreaded, forcing contrived, if discombobulated, responses such as the stork’s tale. Or a dismissive a, basta!

Bata, bata paano ka ginawa? What kid still dare ask in this dotcom age when all it takes is a click to see human procreation in all its variations, in all its perversions.

Social media be damned!

Comes the call for Intervention. One of the major activities in the city’s annual celebration of Women’s Month is the seminar on reproductive health and teenage pregnancy among students from the upper grades to the university. As a matter of course, such seminars go beyond the March celebrations included as they are in the annual programs of the city government. This year though, they have assumed pressing priority status.

As much as the perils of teenage pregnancy to the health of mother and the child, moral values need to be impacted upon the participants in these seminars, said the doctora – no mean pediatrician herself.

On morals, naturally looms largest the Church. But the mere mention of reproductive health – especially when applied to minors – drives churchmen to near exorcistic fits.

Pivotal likewise to all efforts in addressing the problem of teenage pregnancy, Dr. Yap recognizes, is the strengthening of the family.

Absent the working parents in the household for most of the day, if not for weeks on end, the pubescent child falls easy prey to all worldly enticements, further magnified in the social media.

The family is central to both problem and solution, therein lies the greatest challenge for the city in curbing teenage pregnancy.

How it shall go about the nitty-gritty, no one asked Mayor Edwin Santiago in Monday’s press conference.

We can only wish him well.

Meanwhile, the city health office also announced that from January to date, only 10 cases of teenage pregnancy have been reported. The Department of Education still assessing that of a Grade 10 student…

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