Adolescence is a stage when a young individual undergoes physical and mental changes. Teenagers become aware of the changes in their bodies which eventually trigger curiosity about sex and sexuality. Teenagers are normally inquisitive. They are usually open to try new things in order to fit in with their friends and earn a spot in the group. The desire to learn and discover what sex is all about combined with peer pressure can become a dangerous combination.
Premarital sex is common in many Western countries because of their more liberated views on life. Many would think that a predominantly Roman Catholic and conservative country like the Philippines would be less worried about premarital sex and its consequences. In the past, there used to be a long courtship before a woman can accept a man to be her boyfriend. Relationships involved getting to know the person, building trust, and investing emotions without sexual contact. Culture, tradition, beliefs, values, and religion influenced Pinoys’ point of view about premarital sex. Majority of Filipinos regarded sex as an act shared only between husband and wife. Filipino women were expected to give their virginity to their husbands on their wedding night. A local study suggests that Filipinos’ attitudes towards sex have dramatically changed over time.
One in every three youth between the ages of 15 to 24 years old has engaged in premarital sex according to the 2013 study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation, Inc. (DRDF). The 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS 4) indicates that this statistic reflects a 14 percent leap from 20 years ago, when the second YAFS was made. UPPI’s Maria Paz Marquez states that 6.2 million youth have engaged in pre-marital sex. The study also reveals that there is only a minor gap in the number of males and females who have engaged in sex before marriage: 35.5 percent of males compared to 28.7 percent of females in 2013. Youth from the National Capital Region (NCR) and Central Luzon have the highest percentage of premarital sex with 40.9 percent and 39.1 percent respectively. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has the lowest prevalence with 7.7 percent.
It is alarming that many of the youth who admitted engaging in premarital sex do not use any form of protection.
What are the risk factors of premarital sex? The following are factors that may increase the probability of engaging in sex before marriage based on Focus on the Family.
• Ignorance and lack of concern for consequences – Premarital sex stems from the youth’s ignorance about the act and neglect of consequences.
• Attitude-related problems – Rebellion, lack of regard for oneself, and feeling of invulnerability have been linked to sexual acts before marriage.
• Alcohol and drugs – Individuals under the influence of alcohol or drugs are more susceptible to premarital sex. Drinking too much alcohol and taking drugs can confuse a person and affect his or her ability to make sound judgment.
• Steady relationship – Having a steady boyfriend or girlfriend can heighten chances of premarital sex. The longer the relationship takes, the more intense feelings for one another can become. Strong affections can encourage a couple to take the next step in the relationship. The risk of premarital sex is said to be higher when the boy is two or three years older than the girl.
• Lack of adult supervision – Adolescents who are often left unsupervised for long periods may be more prone to premarital sex.
• Parental acceptance that premarital sex is okay – Adolescents whose parents think that premarital sex is normal or appropriate will most likely develop the same opinion. There is a high risk that they will engage in premarital sex because they believe that their parents are not opposed to it.
• Parental opinion that adolescent sex is normal – There are parents who do not approve of premarital sex but think that sex is a normal part of life. Parents who have double-edged opinions often discourage their children to engage in premarital sex but at the same time, they advise them to take precautionary measures such as wearing condoms when sex cannot be avoided. Teenagers are likely to get the message that they can engage in sexual intercourse before marriage if they learn to be careful of their actions.
Is there a correlation between premarital sex and technology? A lawmaker claims that technology may influence the rise of premarital sex among young men and women. AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, co-author of a bill amending the Philippines AIDS Law says that technology and lack of information have contributed to the increase of premarital sex. He mentions several apps like Grindr, FindHrr, Tinder and Blender, which makes finding dates quicker and faster.
Batocabe said in an interview that even though young men and women are warned that premarital sex is considered a mortal sin which can earn them a spot in hell when they die, they still go ahead and do it. This may be an indication that religion and moral values are not strong deterrents of premarital sex compared in the older days.
• Teenage pregnancy – Studies conducted by different health and population organizations indicate that there is an increase in the number of teenage pregnancies in the country. Teenage pregnancies have been reported as early as ages 15 to 19. The Philippines has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the said age bracket compared to nearby countries in the Asia Pacific.
• HIV/AIDS – There is a growing number of young Filipinos turning out HIV-positive. Teenagers, some as young as 15 have been diagnosed HIV-positive according to a study conducted by the Department of Health (DOH). On January 2014, 118 of the new HIV patients belong to the 15 to 24 age bracket. The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is alarmed because new HIV infections are now happening to younger people. The rise of Filipino youth engaging in unprotected premarital sex is a contributing factor to the rise of sexually transmitted diseases in the country such as HIV.
How to tackle the idea of premarital sex – Dealing with premarital sex may depend on the family’s religion, culture, tradition, morals, and beliefs. Protecting a child from the possible risks of premarital sex may also rely on how the child is reared and different environmental factors. Parents and guardians are advised to monitor their teenagers’ activities and make it a point to know the people that their children spend most of their time with. Some Filipinos advocate the importance of sex education and how it can be an effective and pro-active way to address premarital sex while some are opposed to the idea. Despite the rise of premarital sex in the country, young individuals who are well guided by their families and uphold strong moral beliefs choose not to engage in premarital sex.
Photos: Image 1 c/o Pixabay. Public domain; Image 2 c/o Pixabay. Public domain; Image 3 c/o Pixabay. Public domain.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a chocolate lover, full-time mom to a charming young boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.