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Total sex education key to tackle teen pregnancy, lay foundation for love

Total sex education key to tackle teen pregnancy, lay foundation for love

SATURDAY, April 14, 2018
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COMPREHENSIVE sexuality education, already required by law in Thailand, was touted at a recent forum in Bangkok as key to ensuring a solid foundation for life and love.

The forum addressed child marriage, early unions and 
teen pregnancy in Southeast Asia. 
At the forum were representatives from 10 countries, 
including Thailand, and international organisations such 
as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency 
Fund (Unicef) and the United Nations Population Fund 
(UNFPA).
“A striking number of young girls become pregnant 
without having planned to – or without having had conฌ
trol of their pregnancy,” Wivina Belmonte, Unicef deputy 
regional director, East Asia and the Pacific, told the forum. 
“When an adolescent girl becomes pregnant, her life 
changes forever. 
“Her schooling often gets disrupted, or ends altogether 
and her prospects of a job dim. The health hazards due to 
complications from pregnancy and childbirth are huge, 
and often fatal,” said Belmonte. 
Maki Hayashikawa, director at Unesco Bangkok, said it 
is essential that comprehensive sexuality education that 
goes well beyond the basic facts of biological reproducฌ
tion starts at an early age for girls and boys. They need to 
learn about sexuality both in and out of school in order to 
ensure that young people were equipped with a solid 
foundation for life and love. 
According to her, global evidence clearly showed that 
providing comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) does 
not increase sexual activity, but rather empowers young 
people to take charge of their own lives with healthier and 
happier outcomes. “Abstinence-only approaches are not 
effective in delaying sexual initiation, reducing frequency 
of sex or reducing the number of sexual partners,” she 
explained. Comprehensive sexuality education “is the core 
to addressing early unions and teen pregnancy”. 
Forum participants suggested age-appropriate CSE 
should commence in early primary school (at age 5), proฌ
viding skills in communication, decision-making, negotiaฌ
tion, gender equality and respect.
In Thailand, the Prevention and Solution of Adolescent 
Pregnancy Problem Act was launched in 2016 to address 
the country’s fast-rising teen pregnancy rate through the 
involvement of multiple ministries and civil-society partฌ
ners. 
Thailand’s Public Health Ministry shared the opportuฌ
nities created by the Act, especially through enshrining the 
rights of young people to sexual and reproductive health 
information and services. Young people themselves were 
consulted in drafting and implementing the legislation, 
setting a strong example for other countries in the region 
and globally.
While adolescent birth rates have declined globally, 
they have remained generally stagnant or even increased 
in Southeast Asia, with wide-ranging variations between 
countries. The average adolescent birth rate in the region 
is 47 births per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19, higher than 
the average of 35 in South Asia and close to the global 
average of 50.
The highest adolescent birth rates at the country level 
are seen in Lao (94), Cambodia (57), Thailand (50), 
Indonesia (48) and Philippines (47).