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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, November 30, 2019
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with Matè Espina

All about children

Rock & Refuge

It’s been a sad week for children with two losing their lives in a deadly fire that killed five others.

Before the two blazes, we also read about the 8-year old boy who shot his drunk father who has been maltreating him and his siblings.

And across Iloilo, a teacher was forced to resign after a local councilor made public the allegations that he has been showing explicit sex instructional video to Grade 10 students of Pili National High School in Ajuy.

Around the country, the Department of Health announced that apart from the seven cases of the debilitating polio that had been identified, 24 new samples sent to the epidemiology center also tested positive, all of them from children.

With Christmas just around the corner which tops as the children’s most favorite holiday, there will be a lot of sadness in many homes this holiday season.

Yesterday, the headlines screamed of a 23-year old aunt who killed her 5-year old niece in Pontevedra by strangulation and drowning her in a creek.

Such a painful way to die and worse, the aunt made it appear that her niece was molested to avoid suspicion. One would think only a deranged person can possibly do this, but the fact that she diverted attention from herself just smacks of outright murder, planned and executed.

It is painful too, to read about the death of the two boys in different fires – 5 year old Raniel Macapal who nearly escaped but was let go by the woman who was holding an infant, and 12-year old Christian Miguel Java who died of smoke inhalation in the family-owned inn along with his father, grandmother and nanny.

And then you have that crazy story in Ajuy town of a teacher showing the video entitled “A Girl’s Guide to 21 st Century Sex” in his Biology class. I googled that video to gauge the propriety of such, at least for teaching sex education in school, but the video has since been removed. It was classified as R-18 though, and the teacher was plain wrong in showing it to 10 th graders.

Ajuy Councilor Angel Briones described the video as “lewd and offending” and reported the matter to the Department of Education to ask whether the science teacher was even equipped to handle sex education and whether the video was part of educational materials approved by DepEd.

Dr. Roel Bermejo, DepEd-Iloilo Schools Division superintendent already asked the teacher to explain but Bermejo resigned and, they have no more administrative control over the matter.

Bermejo also said that DepEd has an accessible portal for teaching materials related to sex education but teachers may use supplementary materials although stressed appropriateness as a criteria in choosing such materials.

If so, then DepEd is actually culpable in this case because there is explicit permission to use other materials outside of those approved by the department. After all, appropriateness is relative, and it may have been deemed appropriate by that teacher.

This highlights, though, the question on whether sex education must be offered to high school students after one incident like this can spark debates again.

I personally am in favor of sex education being taught in schools if it will empower our students to know about the do’s and don’ts of early sexual experimentation and in practicing safe sex.

Let’s not kid ourselves by saying 10 th graders are far from doing it and should not have been exposed to such videos. Believe me, early sexual experimentation starts much earlier than that.

I have been speaking about sexual rights, reproductive rights and sexuality, mostly to young adults, and many of them have admitted that as early as 15 years old, they have been at it.

If you read through the reports of increasing HIV cases in our community, they are getting younger and younger, and studies have shown that these youths feel invincible in the face of sexually transmitted disease, believing they are being faithful to just one partner.

As of last count, we have over 60,000 HIV cases in the country and these are confirmed cases. The numbers can double or even triple if you include the undetected.

Despite the teacher’s resignation, DepEd must continue its investigation, not just in that school but in all of the schools to check whether those teaching the subject are well equipped with the proper materials and sound mind.

I personally hope, though, that this one incident will not prompt hysteria among parents to demand from DepEd to cancel sex education as part of the curriculum because believe me, it is becoming imperative these days, and as I always tell young adults on why they should practice safe sex – it is better to be safe than to be sorry in the end.*

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