TACLOBAN CITY– Josie realizes the importance of positive parenting in taking care of her young child, Maria (not her real name).

“Looking back, I realize the significance of equipping my children with the tools to understand consent and fostering open dialogue,” said Josie, as her 11-year-old daughter became a victim of sexual abuse from her landlord’s teenage son.

As the world celebrates this year’s International Women’s Day in March, the humanitarian organization for children Save the Children Philippines hopes to draw attention to early and unintended pregnancies among very young girls.

“We call upon the government to prioritize comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, conduct massive awareness-raising campaigns, and strengthen health systems to safeguard the safety and well-being of our children,” Save the Children’s Technical Adviser for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Shebana Alqaseer said in a statement.

“Additionally, we encourage parents to engage in open and healthy conversations with their children about sexuality and reproductive health to empower them to make informed choices,” she added.

The international call to curb teenage pregnancy and early sexual advances among children in the Philippines came following the alarming 35% increase in pregnancies among young Filipinos, aged 10-14.

In 2022, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recorded 3,135 cases of adolescent pregnancies among young girls, showing a 35% increase from the 2,320 cases recorded in 2021.

Save the Children maintained that the rising prevalence of adolescent pregnancy, which is now regarded as a national problem, cannot be traced to a single cause.

“Rather, it is the result of a combination of biological, social, and cultural factors. These factors contributed to adolescent sexuality and reproductive health issues,” the humanitarian organization for children said.

Among the factors cited by the group that lead to teenage pregnancy issues among Filipinos include early sexual debut, limited access to comprehensive sex information and education, and inadequate communication skills among parents, whom adolescents identify as one of their preferred sources of information regarding sexual reproductive health.