Of Condoms and the Filipino Youth

For the past few years, there has been a long-debated issue regarding sex education and its impact to young people. In a conservative Christian nation like the Philippines, majority of the people frown upon the idea of its inclusion to the curriculum. But it is business as usual as Department of Health (DOH) announced its plan to give out condoms in schools as part of its intervention amid the alarming rise of HIV and AIDS cases especially among 15 to 24 year olds. DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubail said condom distribution will start as soon as policy formulations are established with the Department of Education (DepEd). In response, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones asserted the need for a careful evaluation of the program before its implementation.

Scientifically and reality proven, condom is an effective tool in preventing the spread of HIV when used ‘consistently and correctly’. But the real concern is, should schools be involved with its ‘distribution’? One interesting fact to ponder, even DepEd reiterated the need for thorough discussions with DOH to settle whether such policy is proper to cover schools and learning institutions. Indeed, schools are venues for teaching-learning processes and sex education is one area that students must be aware of. But there are certainly more age-appropriate means to provide information such as lectures and symposiums, etc. To put it bluntly, those students who engaged in pre-marital sex have long known where to get condoms and making these readily available in schools is synonymous to saying that what they are doing is acceptable.

This now leads to another discussion of whether to support this policy or not. For while safe sex is one practical strategy to address the problem, are our teachers and school administrators ready to take the responsibility of handing out condoms to their students? More so, are our students prepared to handle the pressure amidst this whole issue? Because as news about condom-giving makes way to TV Patrol or 24 Oras or in any other media platform, curiosity will work in more ways than one and it all starts with the mind. Wonder what a condom is? Wonder what will I do with it? Wonder how sex feels like? Wonder, wonder, wonder. And without proper guidance, promiscuity and pre-marital sex might just be the outcome.

It is then important to deal with the root cause of HIV/AIDS cases among young people. And what causes it? Basically, pre-marital sex, unsafe pre-marital sex. In 2013, a survey done by the University of the Philippines Population Institute revealed that 1 out of 3 Filipino youths aged 15 to 24 had pre-marital sex. More disturbing than this is the statistic that “78% of those who had pre-marital sex for the first time in this age bracket did not use any protection”.

But there is a sure fire way to protect our young people from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. And it is more effective than all latex or polyurethane condoms combined. The power of abstinence and keeping one’s purity are the best things our children can do to guard themselves — physically and emotionally. Schools, churches, and families must work hand-in-hand to uphold true Christian values and pour it out to the hearts of our Filipino youth.

The scripture says, Romans 16:19 “Be excellent of what is good, be innocent of evil”. In this context, it is a call for this young generation to devote their time to worthwhile and productive things — that they become so passionate about it that they don’t think about something corrupting, like pre-marital sex.

And when that happens, perhaps DOH might use P50 to P100 million on feeding programs in schools rather than purchasing condoms. (AJC)