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Study: Teenage pregnancies prevalent in disaster-hit areas

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
Study: Teenage pregnancies prevalent in disaster-hit areas
A study conducted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) showed a significant increase in the number of teenage mothers in Eastern Visayas after the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and Typhoon Ruby in 2014.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The displacement of families during the onslaught of natural disasters often results in pregnancies not just among adult mothers, but also among teenage girls.

A study conducted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) showed a significant increase in the number of teenage mothers in Eastern Visayas after the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and Typhoon Ruby in 2014.

Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña on Tuesday said the result of the study calls for more attention to and protection of the welfare of teenagers, especially girls in times of disaster.

“Whenever there is crisis like natural disasters, when families are evacuated, relocated or displaced, given the poor conditions in temporary shelters or evacuation centers where there are less provisions for privacy and security, adolescents, especially girls who are a 10 to 19 years old, are considered a vulnerable group,” Dela Peña said.

He said the study, conducted by Gloria Luz Nelson and Ma. Victoria Rodriguez, both of  DOST’s National Research Council of the Phlippines, yielded worrisome statistics on the precocity of young girls in the countryside.

“Most youths had their first boyfriend at the age of 15. There are those who had their boyfriends at the age of 10,” Dela Peña said.

The study also estimated the age of sexual initiation of teenage mothers at 15.

Based on the findings of the study, recommendations were made like legislation for the prevention of adolescent pregnancy that will address both sexual and non-sexual risk factors that increase the incidence of teenage pregnancy in times of disaster.

The researchers also proposed provisions of safe and private spaces for adolescents who have been displaced from their own homes as a result of disaster.

Nelson, a sociologist and professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, said the study raised the need to speed up the construction of permanent relocation homes for displaced families.

She said the longer the period of stay in evacuation centers and transitional homes, the higher the likelihood for a teenage girl to get pregnant. 

Nelson said that in evacuation centers and relocation sites, young girls are forced to live in small, crowded environments where they are exposed to a lot of new people.

In such environs the girls might have a consensual sex experience.

TEENAGE PREGNANCIES
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