Teenage sexual activity is a major problem confronting the nation and has led to a rising incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), emotional and psychological injuries, and out-of-wedlock childbearing thus teenage pregnancies and premarital sex occurrences alarm every sector in our society particularly the church and health institutions. Substantial studies had been conducted to support this scenario. A Young Adult Fertility Survey (Yafs) disclosed that males are more into pre-marital sex than females but over the years, young women are catching up with men. The survey covered 20,000 Filipino youths aged 15 to 24 years old across the country. According to the 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation, 26 percent of our Filipino youth nationwide, from ages 15 to 25 years old, admitted to having a pre-marital sex experience. What’s worse is that 38 percent of our youth are already in a live-in arrangement.
The sexual revolution has ushered in a period where the average adolescent faces tremendous pressures to have sexual experiences of all kinds. Today, Pinoy teens get a higher exposure to sex from the Internet, magazines, TV shows, movies, and other media than decades ago, yet without any corresponding increase in information on how to handle the input. So kids are pretty much left to other kids for opinions and value formation when it comes to sex. Sexual misinformation is, therefore, equally shared in the group. Parents at home and teachers in school feel equally inadequate or uneasy to discuss the topic of sex with youngsters. The problem mounts because the barkada has a more profound influence than parents do, exerts pressure and expects the adolescent to conform to the rest of the them.
In our society, having sex outside marriage or before marriage is not acceptable especially that we are a Christian country where the sanctity of marriage is considered sacred be it civil or church wedding. But still a lot of people, particularly the young ones, were tempted to commit this act, discrediting the belief that sex is only for married couple and virginity is the gift one can give to her husband on the night of their wedding.
“Girls have sex to be loved, while boys love to have sex”. This romantic cliché is the most obviously sleazy yet devastatingly lines ever spoken. Men telling women that having sex is just their way of expressing their love, is about as threadbare saw a spider inviting a butterfly into her parlor; while women believe that having sex is their way of proving their love to a man. They gave all in the name of love to establish the truth of reality of their love. However, the question is: what if they are not meant to be? Later on, the women realize that the damage has been done. The guilt sets in and emotion like this has a great effect in their whole life.
The knowledge of pre-marital sex among the youth has been observed to be weak as shown by the increasing rate of unwanted pregnancies, case of abortions, use of contraceptives and the spread of sexually transmitted disease. Teens have the right to know more than the bare facts of menstruation menopause, pregnancies, etc. With the right information, the youth will be more cautious with their sexual activities.
Sexual intercourse in itself is neither morally evil nor good. It is the manner on which it was use that declares its morality. Like most things in life, it has to be done in the proper place, in the proper time and in the proper circumstances. Sexual intercourse should be practiced exclusively by those who are married (opposite sexes, of course) and should always be consensual, practiced in the spirit of love, and should always be in private. This is the only proper way of doing it.
The youth must wait for the right time before engaging in sexual acts, not because of the reason that it is an immoral practice but rather of the fact the risks involved such as abortion, unwanted pregnancy, getting the sexually transmitted diseases, etc. It has also ill effects on their mental, social and psychological being. Nevertheless whatever decision one will make, he/should be ready to face the consequences of their actions.
Unprotected sexual activity in adolescence brings with it the dangers of too early or unwanted pregnancy, induced abortion often in unsafe conditions, STDs, HIV infection and AIDS. In the 1994 YAFSS II, a great number of Filipino youth aged 15-24 had been actively engaged in sexual activity. About 1.8 M boys and 670,000 girls had sexual relations already. On the average, the first sex encounter happened at the age 18. The study also points to signs that girls were forced into sexual relations due to their inability to successfully negotiate refusal of sexual intercourse when not desired and are usually confronted with the threat of abandonment by the partner.
The presence of parents and parental supervision is a key factor that could regulate the spontaneity of sexual activity among young adolescents. Other factors associated with the adolescents early sexual experience are social interactions indexed by the frequency of going out with friends.
To enable adolescents and youth to cope with these challenging world, they should be provided with accurate information on their health concerns; make health services available and accessible to them; build their skills to enable them to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life and creates a safe and supportive environment that will nurture their growth and development. The influential adults such as parents, health service providers, teachers, legislators and people in the community should also have the skills to deal with adolescent issues and concerns.
To stay away from these harmful effects teenagers must maintain standards and understand their responsibilities. Teens today need to follow the law of chastity. Chastity is “a lifestyle that brings freedom, respect, peace, and even romance – without regret; Chastity frees a couple from the selfish attitudes of using each other as objects, and makes them capable of their love. Chastity is a very difficult lifestyle. Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2337). This comes to show that chastity needs to be practiced amongst our youth today. Teenagers are prone to premarital sex, and are especially influenced by the media’s casual attitude toward it. Teenagers today are bombarded with the image of premarital sex through advertising. You can not watch cable television without seeing people kissing intimately, or even having sex . Premarital sex is suggested everywhere in our society, as seen on billboards, in movies, and in magazines. Perhaps, if teenagers had more confidence, they would not be prone to, and influenced by these artificial advertisements. There is no better way for teenagers to protect themselves from all of the dangers surrounding sex except to leave sex for marriage. Sexuality in human beings was not designed to just be okay; it was designed to be extremely good! And it is great and wonderful when we use this special gift of God in the way He intended. Sadly, many people do not respect their sexuality as they should. Through immoral sexual behavior they belittle what God intended to be a very special experience.