USAID, DOH, POPCOM boost parent-teen interactions via social media to address early pregnancies

Press Release | 22 July 2021

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) recently formed a nationwide campaign to address the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies in the Philippines. Dubbed as “Konektado Tayo”, the campaign  aims to bridge the communications gap between Filipino parents and their adolescent children particularly in terms of concerns related to adolescent sexuality and development.

Formally launched on July 22, “Konektado Tayo” uses Facebook as the primary platform to reach the above-mentioned target audiences and help improve the quality of conversations about love, sexuality, and relationships of parents and their teens.

USAID and POPCOM joined forces early this year to develop the “Konektado Tayo” Facebook page, @KonektadoTayoPH1, which to date has reached over 11 million people and has 4,200 followers. Most of its engagements came from 35 to 54 age groups—the intended audience for the said campaign.

Along with the DOH, the three agencies aim to achieve “three Es” through the campaign: 1) Encourage Filipino parents of teenagers to communicate with their children about topics on love, sexuality, and relationships; 2) Equip the adults with the knowledge and skills to feel confident about the information they will share with their children on relevant topics; and 3) Enable parents to build their teens’ values and life skills which they will need as they transition to adulthood.

“POPCOM and USAID acknowledge the popularity of Facebook among Filipinos, which is where most of us connect with friends, families and other people. With ‘Konektado Tayo,’ we have harnessed the power of social media to reach parents, guardians and children in initiating conversations among themselves,” Undersecretary for Population and Development (POPDEV) Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH explained. “If Facebook is where our young citizens obtain information on almost anything and everything about the world around them, then we made certain through ‘Konektado Tayo’ that they could  get their initial information on sexuality through reliable sources, with proper guidance and contextualization, within the same platform.”

The POPCOM chief cited the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality study which showed that only 10% of Filipino youth reported that sexuality was discussed in their homes and that young people are likely to consult their peers for questions about sexuality.

In their POPDEV work in the Philippine setting, Perez shared that parents are expected to be the primary sources of information about love, relationships, and sexuality-related issues. However, they are usually uncomfortable and not equipped to discuss these topics with their adolescent children, as the culture of shame and embarrassment in such conversations discourages open and effective communication between adults and their adolescent children. Without proper guidance, the latter are exposed to inaccurate information that oftentimes can lead to risky behaviors.

“With various risks our youth are facing today, such as teenage pregnancy and lack of education, we believe that ‘Konektado Tayo’ will be instrumental in teaching our children to develop a healthy self-image, empowering them to think critically, and enabling them to make wise decisions, while strengthening their capacity to do what is right.”, the POPDEV undersecretary emphasized. “With ‘Konektado Tayo,’ parents will never be alone in this endeavor, as we commit to provide our shared efforts in creating strategies and avenues for meaningful dialogues with their children toward their overall development, their families and eventually, our nation.”

Parents play a critical role in being the main educator of their children for them to realize and achieve their full potential so that they can complete their education which will pave the way for opportunities for a brighter future. The DOH underscores the importance of connection between young people and people who matter the most to them and whom they can trust such as their parents and mentors. By having open, respectful, discreet, and compassionate conversations with them on sensitive issues such as relationships, sexuality, and sex, we can help prevent risky sexual behavior and promote responsible decision-making among young Filipinos.

“Let us all commit to supporting our adolescents by providing avenues and platforms for them to freely share their thoughts about their sexuality, sexual and reproductive health needs, and concerns they may have as they go through this crucial period in their lives,” Department of Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stated.