Sunday, June 6, 2010
Of birds and bees
In my over 25 years of pediatric practice, nothing probably shocks me anymore.
My youngest mother was 12 years old when she delivered to a baby boy. Let's call her K. She doesn't know who the father of the child is. Her mother is a single parent. At a party, all she knew was that she woke up with 5 boys on top of her. The boys were between 13-15 years old. The baby was unwanted. She did not want to see the baby and eventually the boy was adopted.
I will not elaborate on sordid details. I tell this story because it is not an isolated one.
I have several patients whose parents are less than 16 years old. For every 10 newborns I have, 2 - 3 are born to parents less than 18 years old. And I only do private practice, which means that I only cater to class A and B patients.
For Bishop Quitorio to provide an opinion that the suitable time for sex education to be taught in the Philippines is 17 years old, is highly irresponsible. He was not in touch with reality.
I do not want to demean those who preach from pulpit in this blog. While Quitorio may have his opinion on the matter, I wonder if he has had a reality check on the current situation of our youth and society today. The good bishop claims that sex education should be the responsibility of every parent. While I concur on this, what he desires as the ideal scenario is not the practice.
The following facts remain:
1. Many Filipino homes and families have both parents working. Albeit, some families have even children as young as 15 years old working to augment the meager income of the family.
2. Without a doubt, since we are major exporters of OFWs, it cannot be underscored that many lower income families have one or both parents working in other countries and their children are left to the care of relatives in the Philippines, who have their own lives and families to take care of. Which leaves the children in a quandary and in such deep psychological sh*t!
3. Children who belong to a much lower socioeconomic class are more abused - physically and emotionally. Many of them are deprived of even basic schooling. The tabloids have a daily run on sex in the slums, which I hope the Catholic Church is aware of. Children as young as a few months old are already abused, by their own parents or relatives. This is fact and not fiction.
4. Pedophilia is a psychiatric illness and is not singularly related to poverty. It comes in all walks of life. I remember I had a mother who came to me to have her two sons, aged 3 and 7 examined. I was wondering what prompted this "walk-in" consult. She said that she chanced upon her 7 year old asking her 3 year old son to perform fellatio on him. She was shaking the whole time she was telling me the story. When she confronted her 7 year old son, he said that he thought it was alright because his father and grandfather would ask him to do the same to them.
5. Technology and yes, the internet, has served as the greatest source of information on sex. Peer groups and financial wants and needs of the youth of today, coupled with troubled family dynamics, has led to the increasing problem on teenage pregnancy. All these at the tip of your fingers and with google and the RETURN key.
The church has its own problems when dealing with sex and kids. I will not expound on this because I do not want to cast the first stone. But providing unsolicited advice from the Catholic Church without properly studying the current social problem our youths face is a microscopic view on the actual problems of our children. We need a reality check on this and since the bishops seem to be giving unsolicited opinions, let me share with them two suggestions or observations:
1. Let the government provide a program. We need to trust the government on this as this is their role and responsibility to every citizen. The church does not have a program on sex education and seems to shun away from this. If the church thinks it is an anathema to provide sex education to children and should remain hush hush on the matter, there is a deeper need for the church to be more socially and spiritually relevant during this time of social change and suggest they go on a retreat and examine their conscience well enough to make an alternative program for this. We cannot have medieval beliefs compromise the future of our youth.
2. There is a dire need to preach from the pulpit more relevant matters. I probably am lucky that the church I go to for Sunday services has a parish priest that is relevant to the times. But I am sure that you will all agree with me that this is more of an exception rather than a rule. Many Sunday sermons are a yawn. Many of the priests do not even make tangible sense and some even come unprepared to the extent that the Theological discourse is all scattered and becomes an exercise in futility. No matter how one tries to concentrate on the celebration, its relevance has become mundane. In short, there is no take home message from mass.
The trouble with the church in trying to put some sense into morality to try to explain the birds and the bees to children is that they rely too much on fear. They fear that every child who is integrated into a sex education class will come out to be nymphomaniacs or macho studs and will engage in more cavorting is like believing that all children who receive vaccines will eventually become autistic.
It was a great man who died for mankind on the cross 2000 years ago who asked Peter to feed His lamb and tend His sheep. The only way for a good shepherd to care for its sheep is to guide them through these trying times by working WITH and not against what the government can do for the good of its people. In this little way, can the church be more relevant with the times.