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Friday, November 09, 2007

High-school students go for sex education

Young people have poor access to sexual and reproductive health information that puts them at risk

Friday, November 09, 2007
By Harley Palangchao, Correspondent - Manila Times

BAGUIO CITY: Hundreds of high-school students from Baguio and the rest of the Cordilleras signed a manifesto expressing full support for programs addressing the need for sex education among the youth.

These students who attended the recently concluded Adolescents Reproductive Health Forum at the Baguio City National High School acknowledged that the sexual and nonsexual risks that young people take largely because of poor access to important adolescent sexual and reproductive health information and services has become alarming.

Likewise, the signatories of the manifesto confirmed the findings of the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey, which indicated a growing number of young people in the Cordillera now engage in smoking, drinking, the use of illegal drugs and premarital sex.

The study showed that the youth sector aged 15 to 24 years old in the Cordilleras topped the list of smokers and indicated a high preference for premarital sex nationwide.

“We strongly believe that smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, substance abuse, engaging in premarital sex and having multiple partners could lead to other life-threatening circumstances like suicide and contraction of HIV/AIDS,” read the manifesto.

The students also appealed for government support for programs focused on the problems of the youth sector and stressed the need to strengthen peer-to-peer assistance to prevent the risks involved in sex-related behavior.

“We expressed our full support for the immediate implementation of Life Skills-Strengthened Curricula for elementary and secondary schools as one of the ways to combat the increasing trend of young people engaging in risky behaviors,” the manifesto reads further.

The United Nations Population Fund and its partner agencies have intensified efforts to protect minors in the Cordilleras after a study showed adolescents are the most predisposed to sex-related activities.

The study showed that 58 percent of Cordillera youth aged 15 to 24 admitted to having tried smoking while 75 percent tried drinking alcoholic beverages.

It also showed that more than 10 percent of Cordillera youth tried illegal drugs while 23 percent had already experienced premarital sex.

The same survey showed that 366 young people in the entire country contributed to the 762 cases of HIV/AIDS in the country.