DAY 2: EDUCATE
Ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant afternoon. I would like to start my speech with this - On the eve of the senior prom, when most teenagers worry about what to wear, 15-year-old Mel has other things on her mind. In three months, she will be giving birth to her first child. She said: "At that time, I was searching for love. I felt all alone and unloved. So I thought that by giving myself to my boyfriend, I will be able to feel love and he will love me forever." Mel's story is a familiar one. She is one of 3.6 million teenage mothers in the Philippines.
According to the World Bank, the Philippines is among the top ten countries where there is an increasing number of teenage mothers. These statistics often translates to a higher incidence of poverty in the country. Women's groups are alarmed by the steady increase in teen pregnancies. Seven out of every 10 women who are pregnant are teenagers, and most of them are younger than 19. And, believe it or not, every year, at least 64,000 teenagers have abortion. This should not really be happening to us since we live in a civilized society, and as civilized individuals, we must first think before we act. We must think of the possible consequences before doing something that could possibly ruin our young hopes and dreams for the future. But why does this still happen?
As in Mel’s story, the main reason behind early pregnancy is Premarital Sex or PMS. Without PMS, there wouldn’t be teenage pregnancy. According to studies, most teenagers engage in PMS to satisfy oneself or the other while, 1 out 3 teens aged 15-17 were pressured to do so. Peer pressure, curiosity and perhaps the feeling of being unloved is the main reason why these things happen. What comes next? A girl gets pregnant unexpectedly. Early pregnancy makes it difficult for a girl to continue with her education. Based on studies, only 41% of girls who give birth to children before the age of 18 graduate high school. Some may never even step into high school because of their situation and the poor kind of life that they have. As a result, finding a regular source of income in the later years might be difficult as every job position nowadays, demands certain skills and a certain degree of education.
Children born to such young parents often display retarded psycho-social development and malnutritional effects, since a teenage mother lacks parenting skills. Teens haven’t developed well enough in themselves to have the responsibility of raising another life. She could sometimes fail to understand what her child needs and could probably lack the maturity and patience that a parent needs to have. Thus, the son can become a bad influence and possibly end up in prison. On the other hand, the daughter may follow in the footsteps of her mother and become a victim of teenage pregnancy herself. And what would become of them someday? Nothing! In the future, if these acts persist, what would become of us? What would happen to the hope of the fatherland?
Rearing a child at an early age comes with a lot of responsibility. Being pregnant at such an early age will most likely ruin your plans for your future. All your treasured dreams and hopes – or maybe most of them- will certainly vanish. As for Mel, she now lives in a shelter for teenage mothers. She is hoping that when the baby arrives, her parents will give in and accept them back.
Ladies and gentlemen, let Mel’s story be a lesson to all of us. Let’s not rush into things and dare to try to do things which we know could go beyond our control. Think about our parents who have been working endlessly and sacrificing themselves to send us to school and give us a better future. Our parents believe in us. They trust us. Are we going to break that trust? I certainly hope not. Think about the people who have been there for you, who have been supporting you in building your dreams. Are you going to let them down? Think about yourself. Think about your future, your reputation, your dreams, your plans… will you just let it fall apart after years of working hard for it? My friends, there is a big world waiting for all of us. Let us prioritize our studying because right now, this is what matters most. Learn to say NO to PMS to avoid early pregnancy. And say YES to a brighter future! :)
***It is sad how the statistics are rising fast. Hopefully, teenagers will wake up and face the reality of the situation (getting pregnant at an early age). We, the young generations must take part on endeavors that are for the good of the community and for the betterment of ourselves. We still have so much more to do with our years. I advice you to get into motherhood when you are capable and very much ready.
I hope you've learned something from this. :)