The Government has carried out an active family planning education and contraceptive service program which has helped cut Taiwan's natural increase rate in half in twenty years (from 1963’s 3.0%. to less than 1.6% in 1983). Nevertheless, the population has increased from 1953's 12 million to nearly 19 million in 1983. To continue this fertility decline, the program is considering focusing more efforts on the adolescent group (15-19) whose births comprised 6-8% of all during the past few years. In addition to demographic policy, there has recently been more awareness of social problems occurring as a result of an increase in unwanted premarital pregnancy for those married at age less than 20 (derived from findings of the 1980 Island-wide fertility KAP survey).
Modernization, it appears, is bringing not only universal education but certain social and demographic problems. Unfortunately, until recently, we did not know a great deal about adolescent activities, i.e., our scientific body of knowledge on adolescent sexuality-related behavior was quite limited. Although there were a number of university-centered or sponsored studies of small samples or limited geographic areas (which attracted a fair amount of newspaper coverage), there had been no island-wide probability sample from which one might draw conclusions about the whole adolescent body. Too often, impressions of adolescent sexual activity are overstated based on anecdotes, sometimes apocryphal, about factory workers who represent only a small segment of the adolescent population.
To remedy this and provide a clearer understanding of the existing social situation, the Taiwan Provincial Institute of Family Planning, with National Science Council support, and the cooperation of the University of Massachusetts Division of Public Health, the first Island-wide sample survey of youth’s viewpoint and behavior to male and female socializing took place. This survey focused particularly on unmarried females ages 15-19, but also included married women as well.
These findings, made available in mid-1984, indicate the need to review the present Governmental Policy to strengthen the educational input on reproduction, pregnancy, family planning and contraception in the public and private schools. In addition, curriculum input, teacher and school administrator training, and educational materials related to the social relationships of male and female adolescents, particularly responsibility regarding sexuality, need to be developed.
These findings also show that Government and private agencies need to make stronger efforts to reach adolescents, both in and out of school, with specific public information about contraception, particularly its availability and usage.