WHEN I call it a day in the college where I teach, I find that darkness has already fallen. Set off in the pitch-black campus grounds are the gazebos, where light and wifi connection attract study groups.
Where do students go after the library closes and the evening classes are dismissed? I assumed that they would be like me, hungry and looking forward to falling asleep before the evening soap.
Different students on different occasions gave one answer: gazebos offer faster connection than the nearby Internet cafés. And it’s free.
I remembered these interactions when I read a May 21 Sun.Star Cebu report that young women in Central Visayas are “14 times more likely” to “engage in early sex,” compared to their male counterparts, who are only “five times more likely” to be sexually active before the legal age of 18.
Lorraine Mitzi Ambrad, an intern of the University of San Jose-Recoletos, quoted the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (Yafs) 4. This is a national series that presents cross-sectional surveys of Filipinos aged 15 to 24 years.
Ambrad reported that the early “sex debuts” and frequency of sex among young adults alarmed health authorities because many of these encounters are unprotected. Having sex without a condom increases one’s risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infection, specially HIV/Aids.
For Cebu, the Yafs 4 findings raise another alarming trend: students who board are more vulnerable to early sex. An education hub, Cebu attracts enrollees from the central and southern regions of the country.
College teachers know from experience what parents whose children live in a dorm or boarding house fear by instinct: lack of parental supervision, coupled with landlord apathy or laxity and big-city temptations, may overwhelm young persons and distract them from finishing on time.
However, I’m not convinced that the proposal of presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte to impose a curfew and liquor ban will douse sexual hyperactivity among the young.
Republic Act (RA) 1224, passed by Congress in 1955, bans establishments located within a radial distance of 50 meters from schools, churches and hospitals to sell liquor to students and minors.
Section 12 of Cebu City Ordinance 1413, also known as the Liquor Licensing Ordinance, prohibits the issuance of a liquor license to a business located within an urban residential zone or within 100 meters from the perimeter of a school or hospital.
If RA 1224 and City Ordinance 1413 are strange, you are not alone. As a college freshman in the 1980s, I learned not to sit in the back row of the classroom, where the seriously drunk often slipped in or those with a serious hangover hid behind dark glasses. Most of my classes then were in the morning.
Resting the fate of young people on a curfew is as archaic. A 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. ban may prevent youths from roaming the streets; it will hardly clip their social media wings. Many transactions leading to sex are initiated online. Google is not a favorite search engine for nothing.
How can we help young adults? Educate them. Enable them to walk away from being coerced into sex for love or money. Make them mature enough to resist posting their sex trophies on Facebook. Give them tough requirements that keep them researching from dusk till dawn because they know, education is not about “cuarto o cuatro (motel room or conditional grade)”.
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*First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s May 22, 2016 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”