(WARNING: This story discusses in part online pornography. Readers should exercise caution.)

The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) is working closely with the Department of Health (DOH) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to give young people who are vulnerable to “accessible pornography,” which has been found to be a factor in teen pregnancy, safe places to go online.

POPCOM said that young Filipinos use social media to communicate and have fun. However, parents should be able to guide their children’s digital lives, especially when it comes to topics like relationships, sexuality, and sex.

The Commission also said that teens shouldn’t just be monitored in the way they use social media, but also on streaming services, where they might see things that aren’t appropriate for their age.

“They should be concerned about their kids’ online environment not only to enable them to enhance their knowledge but also to protect them from false information that may cause them to undertake risky actions that have life-long implications,” POPCOM said. 

POPCOM said because of this, they are closely collaborating with the DOH and the USAID to provide safe online spaces for the youth through initiatives such as Konektado Tayo and IChoose via Facebook.

It also said that it is working with the Department of Education (DepEd) to make sure that comprehensive sexuality education for all ages is fully rolled out in schools and becomes a regular part of their curriculum.

Earlier, Board Member Rafael Ortega Jr. stated that, in his opinion, social media contributes to teenage pregnancy in the province by making inappropriate content available to young people.

Ortega has requested that an education campaign on sex education, reproductive health, and teenage pregnancy be carried out immediately by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) and the Schools Division Superintendent of the Department of Education in Palawan.

“I hope through this piece of legislation ay maaddress ang many issues including prevention ng teenage pregnancies. Makakatulong ito [dahil] alam naman natin ngayon na ang social media ay talagang hindi na maganda ang naidudulot sa ating mga kabataan,” he said. 

According to Maylyn Dilig, a local DepEd spokesperson, all schools in Palawan implement reproductive health and adolescent sexuality programs that provide sexual education to students and are expected to address all sexual issues.

In collaboration with Roots of Health, the program includes a series of talks and an information drive centered on sexuality-related concerns that adolescents face during their formative years.

“Mayroon po tayong reproductive health and adolescent sexuality, may program ang DepEd dyan at Strong din ang implementation namin,” Dilig said. 

She added that each school has a School Adolescent Reproductive Health Focal Person who is responsible for issues relating to adolescents.