News - Youth Matters

By Jan Nicole Datu

                The youth is like fire.  It creeps forward, a spark at first, growing into a flame, then brightening into a blaze.  Now, more than ever, their numbers grow quickly.  In time, majority of the population will be teenagers.  This rapid growth of youthful population may someday pose serious challenges to the government, not only in terms of providing health, education, employment and social security services to the numbers alone, but also because of the reproductive potential of the population.  This if not controlled, will only negate efforts to improve the welfare of the population.

                The youth, likewise, is a group that suffers most from the consequences of poverty.  The quality of young people’s daily lives deteriorates from many factors such as lack of education, mass unemployment, exclusion from decision-making, absence of positive models, and an atmosphere of violence and crime.

                In this young generation lies a rich fund of untapped potentials, enthusiasm, energy, openness to change, easy acceptance of innovation, creativity, courage and strength, and in their number, the power to turn a country from a developing to a developed nation.  The role of the youth is important today.  They have underplayed themselves in the past.  Now, young people are slowly taking their rightful position as a significant factor in economic growth.

                Youth development has long been overshadowed by other issues.  Most governments of a number of countries see child and youth programs as interventions to solve problem cases and not so much as positive instruments for sustaining social development and poverty reduction strategies, and for preventing AIDs and terrorism.  But not anymore, because “genuine” projects for the youth have risen sharply.

                Many countries have now recognized the fact  that the ability of a society to develop is based, in part, on the extent to which it can integrate the potential and input of the younger generation in  and planning and development processes.

                The future changes in population and the impact of these changes on socio-economic, political and environmental conditions of the country largely depend on the behavior of today’s youth.  Equipping this critical segment of the population with positive human values, appropriate knowledge, attitudes, and skills is considered essential in bringing about a safe and viable future, and more importantly, reproductive health education, which is the most effective way to control the world’s growing population.

                But you do realize, don’t you? That reproductive health is a fairly controversial subject anywhere.  It generates a lot of misunderstanding and this reluctance to talk about all things “sex-related” makes access to reproductive and sexual health knowledge and services difficult.

                Reproductive health does not only focus on the reproductive organs but also considers the mental and social well-being of a person.  To be informed about it will help enhance life and personal relations.  We all have the right to be educated about sexuality and personal relationships to protect ourselves from violence.  We should be aware of the responsibilities and the consequences of our decisions.   Adolescents today are engrossed on premarital sex and they do not care anymore about the teachings of the church.  It is no longer surprising that each year, the number of teen pregnancies increases.

                Reproductive health plays an important role in society.  There will be no people if there will be no reproduction, and no society without people.  Reproductive health is a basis for having healthy children, intimate relationships and happy families.  It is also a key factor for social and economic growth because reproductive health is an essential component of the general health of people, whose energy and creativity are the driving forces of development.

                It is about time that the culture of silence surrounding reproductive health is chipped away.  Let us make the youth realize, understand and accept all the issues and facts about reproductive health.  Failure to recognize and deal with reproductive health problems sets the scene for later health and development problems.

                So, with all that is said about population, youth and reproductive health, the point is made that today, we can see how important the involvement and role of the youth is in sustaining the world’s development.  Governments should then be urged to take appropriate measures so that the youth from all parts of the world can participate actively in decision-making.  In addition to their intellectual contributions, and their ability to mobilize support, they bring unique perspectives that need to be taken into account.

                The youth hopes for a world free from poverty, unemployment, inequality, and exploitation of man by man; a world free of discrimination on the grounds of race, color, language and gender; and a world full of creative challenges and opportunities to conquer.  Let us convert these hopes into reality.







JAN NICOLE DATU is a third year high school student from Angeles City Science Highschool, Region III.  She is the SECOND PLACE WINNER of the  2008 National Essay Writing Contest on Population and Development for the Youth, organized by the Bureau of Secondary Education-Department of Education, and sponsored by the Philippine Center for Population and Development, Inc.