Everyone makes mistakes. Most of us learn from them, become better persons as a result, and then move on. As the saying goes, “Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment”. In fact, we’ll make more mistakes than we can ever remember and in between being born and dying, we will commit more than a few of them. For some people however, some mistakes can be too much fun to make only once. Some will pay a huge price for doing something silly or downright trivial. When this is the case, it is harder for those involved to move on especially when the party they have “offended” refuses to move on. Such is the case with four teenage girls from Cebu, Philippines who offended a Catholic school.
According to a news report, the “Catholic school that barred four of its high school students from attending graduation rites for posting their pictures wearing bikinis on Facebook has sued the students’ parents for alleged failure to properly supervise their children. In a case it filed at the city prosecutor’s office, St. Theresa’s College (STC) sued the parents for violating Republic Act No. 7610, or the Anti-Child Abuse Law, for alleged failure to supervise their children that resulted in the children’s engaging in vices and other immoral acts, like taking pictures of themselves wearing bikinis and posting these on Facebook.”
There is definitely something wrong with this picture. And that picture is not something you can easily upload on social networking sites. Didn’t Jesus Christ teach forgiveness and humility? Or is forgiveness and humility not included in St. Theresa’s College (STC) curriculum? It’s quite mind-boggling that something as trivial as such photos of the teenagers posted supposedly in the privacy of their own Facebook accounts is considered a condemnable act by the school authorities. They are teenagers, damn it! Their brains are not yet fully-formed. Most teenagers can be giddy, loud, crass and prone to doing dumb things. The school should have just given them a stern lecture and then told to move on.
The complainants tried to justify suing the parents of the teenagers by stating that “Lest we regress to a culture of juvenile delinquency and errant behavior, the parents and the school need to consciously and constantly take to heart their respective responsibilities”.
They have got to be kidding me. In suing the parents of the teenagers, the school representatives seem to be trying to wash the school’s hands off its own failure to instill the school’s Catholic values. The children’s school fees should be refunded immediately. Besides, suing the parents of these teenagers will not stop the already fast on-going degeneration of the country’s moral fiber. It is already too late. A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) official said the Philippines has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Here’s what they said:
The UNFPA 2011 annual report said there are 53 births per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 19 in the Philippines.
The PIA added over 11 percent of the 1.75 million live births in 2009 (the latest review year) were given by teenage mothers.
The numbers have risen steadily every year over the 10-year period from 1999 to 2009, the PIA added.
Also, it said data shows that in 2000, one-fifth of the country’s population belongs to the 15- to 24-year-old bracket—that means 16.5 million youngsters. By 2030 this number is projected to reach 30 million.
There is something to be said about the only predominantly Catholic country in the region bagging the distinction of having “one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in ASEAN”. The Catholic Church needs to snap out of their delusion. They have to realize that sex education should be part of school curricula because if the students do not get the information from within the safety of their overprotective walls, the teenagers’ natural tendency is to seek it elsewhere. And if the information they get is that “doing it” once will not get them pregnant, then the projection of the UNFPA 2011 annual report will come true. We will see more teenage pregnancies in the future.
Will the Catholic Church even reflect on why there are more and more Filipino teenagers getting pregnant? I doubt it. It will be a miraculous day that will see the Church seriously looking into the way they contribute significantly to Philippine society’s empty spirituality. There may be a lot of people knelt in prayer inside the churches but they could just be there for no other reason than to want to be seen being there.
Unfortunately, most leaders of the Catholic Church can’t see beyond blaming individual households. They can’t see the role of media in the dumbing down of our society. Noontime shows in the country even show scantily clad women gyrating to the chanting of the host. The dance moves by themselves could already be promoting the very promiscuity and “lewd” behavior that the Catholic schools are shrieking about. Likewise, telenovelas or drama shows that tend to stunt the development of the human brain and predispose it to mimic reel life in their real lives is so abundant in the television networks. You hardly see any member of the Catholic Church complaining about these things. They seem clueless about the real reason why more and more Filipino teenagers are turning to sex for comfort instead of the church.
By prolonging this drama, the representatives of the Catholic School could damage the teenagers’ reputation even further and damage their chances of being accepted to universities. They can also ruin the families’ finances and also wreak havoc on the emotional well-being of those involved, especially the impressionable minds of the girls. Just imagine being ostracized by society for simply wearing a bikini, considering that at that age women hardly think of the effect they have on those who put malice on such an attire.
This is such a bizarre case that most people would think only happens in ultra-conservative states. It’s not like the girls went to a strip club wearing their bikinis. They went on a swimming excursion that required wearing a swimming costume, for Christ’s sake!
Here’s something all parents can learn from this mess: It may be too much to expect that your kids to be taught real Christian values at Catholic Schools nowadays. Ironically, Catholic schools can even sue you if they think your kids do not behave according to their standards, which they may fail to instill and uphold themselves. Perhaps most Catholic schools today are more preoccupied with image than with substance.