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Premature parents

Births among girls aged 15 and below are steadily rising. The latest data show the worrying statistic went up by 7 percent in 2019 compared to the preceding year.

“In 2019, 2,411 girls considered as very young adolescents aged 10 to 14 gave birth, or almost seven every day. This was a three-fold increase from 2000, when only 755 from the same age group gave birth,” the Commission on Population and Development said.

POPCOM added that this is the 9th year the rate has increased since 2011, nothing that one out of every 10 pregnancies in the Philippines has been among teenagers, as the trend of younger girls giving birth continues to rise. “Overall, the number of Filipino minors who gave birth in 2019 increased to 62,510, which was slightly higher than the 62,341 minors in 2018.”

Congress, according to POPCOM, earlier asked the commission to coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide social protection for adolescent mothers and their children. According to the commission, local government units have already joined efforts to reduce adolescent births, lending their hand to The Challenge Initiative – a tripartite partnership launched in November 2020 among POPCOM, the Zuellig Foundation, and the Melinda and Bill Gates Institute. The drive will undertake teenage pregnancies in all kinds of communities in the Philippines.

The rise of births among very young adolescents is a worrying trend that needs to be addressed from all fronts. Education and prevention will be critical, but given the rising trend, the provision of government support for these children, who have become mothers at a very young age, will be as important. Financial support, counseling, and training will be necessary for these little girls who have suddenly become parents to have a shot at better lives as they navigate the many challenges that premature parenthood will undoubtedly bring.

Parenthood is a blessing but it is also one of life’s greatest challenges. Young girls barely in their teens, who suddenly become mothers, should not be judged and ostracized by society but they will need all the help they can get. They say it takes a village to raise a child but, in their case, the government will need to pitch in for these parents, who are still practically kids.*

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