/ 17 February 2021

A STUDY conducted by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines showed that school closures was one of the factors behind the rise in teenage pregnancy.

A two-month study of the two agencies led by Dr. Gloria Luz Nelson, a sociologist , showed that the pandemic was not the cause of teenage pregnancy, but several mediating factors such as school closures, dysfunctional family, and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health education.

The two-month study disclosed the stories of 18 teenagers who became mothers during the pandemic. The stories are the data gathered through screen-mediated in-depth interviews on Facebook and Messenger.

The respondents are from nine provinces.

“Pregnancy for them means taking a time off from their studies,” Nelson said.

Last week, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that two 10-year-olds from Metro Manila and Southern Luzon became mothers at their tender age.

The study done by Dr. Nelson and Mari Juni Paulette B. Gonzales also showed that the 18 participants were generally happy with their new roles as mothers and mostly rely on their families and partners for financial and emotional support.

The NRCP researchers said that their pregnancies were unplanned but not unwanted.

Majority of those who dropped out because they got pregnant expressed the desire to continue their studies.

However, the teens face multiple burdens such as low to no income, low education, less employment opportunities, and health risk for both mother and children.

The NRCP researcher recommended the mobilization of all social institutions from the family, government and civil groups to address this “social problem”.

Nelson said there should be programs and policies to make the youth stay in school so that they can improve their human capital, have access to reproductive health care, make informed decisions, and break away from intergenerational poverty.

“Prevention of early pregnancy among adolescents is a way of protecting children’s rights,” said DOST Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Management, Management Services, and Special Concerns, Dr. Diana Ignacio.