The Onset Of Puberty

By Fred K. Yuen
 
What is Puberty?  Affects of early and late onset of puberty          Interesting sights on the Internet 
References
Puberty
    From the day a baby is conceived and all through adulthood people go through many stages and changes in life.  They first start to grow rapidly and with the growth of hair and muscles they are soon running around and enjoying every drop of life around them.  At this time they feel complete and untouchable.  Then things start to change again.  This does not feel normal.  Although it was expected it feels so different and now life will change.  This change, which happens during adolescence, is called puberty.  (Remember that onset, order and speed does play a big role in individuals experiences of puberty)
 

Physical Aspects
    Boys and girls go through different changes at different times.  For girls, according to the Sexuality Database, puberty usually happens between the age of ten to fourteen, with some being earlier and some later.  For boys it is usually starts between the ages thirteen and sixteen, with some starting earlier or later.  Puberty usually takes three to four years.

Boys
    According to Physical Changes in Boys During Puberty, a boy starts to change into a man. He becomes taller and stronger.  His penis and testicles start to grow.  His voice gets deeper, and hair starts to grow in places where hair has always been absent.  These places are usually the pubic area, under the arms, the chest and facial hair.  But this is only the exterior changes that happen during puberty.  Internally, a boys body is starting to develop the tools needed to reproduce.  His testicles are now able to produce semen.  The new hormones that is produced by the testicles are also affecting the sweat glands.  Here is where boys might start to have body odor and need to use deodorant.

Girls
    Unlike boys, girls first physical sign of puberty is usually the initial growth of the breast.  According to Physical Changes in Girls During Puberty,  Girls start to change into women from the inside to the outside.  Like boys, girls also start to grow hair in places where they never had hair before.  These places include the pubic area, under the arm and a little above the lip.  Internally, girls are also beginning to enable themselves to reproduce.  This stage is called Menarche, the beginning of menstrual periods.  Although periods start irregular, a girl can still become pregnant even before her first menstrual period.

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Emotional Aspects

    As if the physical changes during puberty was not enough, there are some important emotional aspects that people should know about.  In a report called the Emotional Changes During Puberty,  the major concern for adolescence is the questions of, "Am I Normal" and "Am I good as my friends?"  Adolescence usually do not know fully what is happening to their bodies.  They become moody at times and parents need to understand this to help their adolescent cope with the changes.  In mid puberty, adolescents begin to experiment with independence from there parents and this is the stage were they are most vulnerable to experimentation.  Toward the end of puberty most of the conflicts begin to diminish and the entering adult is now thinking about the future.  At this point there is allot of anxiety developing.
    The most important factors in an adolescence journey through puberty is peers, family, and school.  Any disturbance in these three factors can be a heavy burden on the growing adult.  This could lead to depression, drugs, criminal acts, and/or more.

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Affects of early And Late Onset of Puberty
In Females

    There has been allot of study on the onset of puberty for females.  The major concern is whether or not going through puberty at a different time than others of the same age is good.  The studies all point toward the same outcome that early onset of puberty for girls can be psychologically damaging.  According to Marissa Sharum (mcs137@psu.edu), many females who start puberty early tend to view their body negatively.  This could be do to the social pressures that force women to want to be thin.  A girl who has gone through puberty early tends to be bigger and fatter than a girl who has not gone through puberty.  This girl will stand out in comparison to the rest of her friends and will usually have a low self esteem.
    These females are usually rejected by their peers.  Instead of looking for different friends within the same age group, they tend to make older and more mature friends.  This can be bad for the less experienced and mentally immature individual.  Hanging out with the older crowd can lead a teen into premature sex, and drug experiences.  Ge et al. (1996) has theorized that these females may not have had enough time to complete the necessary childhood developmental tasks before entering the world of the older crowd. They have had less time to form a sense of self, which could lead them in making bad decisions for themselves as well as for the future.
    Another study by Simmons and Blyth (1987) also say that body image is the main focus on the early onset of puberty.  Early developers are usually less satisfied with their body and are more likely to care about how they look at an early age.  The main reason for their dissatisfaction is the fact that they weigh more than others.
    According to the study, when puberty becomes constant early developers still remain concerned about their body image.  This is could be due to the change in the way they think.  Early developers have learned to be insecure about themselves and although others have caught up with them physically, it is hard to change a trained mind.
 

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Affects of Early And Late onset Of Puberty
In Males

    Unlike girls, early development of puberty is not harmful for boys.  There is not as much study done on boys as much as there is on girls.  But one thing is agreeable, early onset among boys can be perceived as a head start.  In most cultures, athleticism and strength is the main attraction for men.  Knowing this, it could be concluded that a boy with more muscle tone and agility would be praised by other boys who has not passed puberty.  This is what happens when a boy develops earlier.  The boy is considered stronger and better than the rest of his peers.  Other adolescence look up to him and his self esteem remains unharmed.
       According to Simmons and Blyth (1987), body image plays a huge role in male adolescence also.  their study showed that early developers are satisfied with their height and body image.  Early developers are happier and even after height and weight is controlled, they seem to be happier.   In grade seven earlier developers considered themselves to be better looking, and in grade ten they considered themselves to be better in athletics.  The study concluded that they have undoubtedly a head start in athletics.
    Addressing a college student that I knew went through puberty late (at about eleventh grade), he told me that he never got to play all the sports that he wanted to play.  He said he felt he was not good enough and he was physically unable to play physical sports.  Right now he is the best nonpaying athlete in his group of friends.  He agrees that he can play sports good now but he still seems to be insecure about how good he is.
    Being a late developing boy can have its consequences.  Late Bloomers can be frustrated when their friends are getting bigger and stronger.  This sight talks about the different burdens that late developers go through and the damages that can be caused. With the competition that goes around as an athlete, the urge to be stronger is strong itself.  Boys who's bodies are not ready for weightlifting are trying twice as hard to lift weights and exercise in order to keep up with the rest of his peers and competitors.  This can be damaging to bones and muscles.
    Being less developed will cause peers to look down on a person.  This person might feel incompetent in comparison to friends.  Due to less developed muscles and height, a undeveloped boy will have a smaller chance of being good at sports.  Remember that sports is a big issue in most cultures also.

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Interesting Sights On The Internet
 http://www.chmc.org/aboutchi/infoline/girls.htm
    "PHYSICAL CHANGES IN GIRLS DURING PUBERTY:
    During puberty, a girl's body changes, inside and out, into the body of a woman. The changes
    don't come all at once, and they don't happen at the same time for everybody. Most girls start
    showing physical changes around age 11, but everyone..."

http://www.chmc.org/aboutchi/infoline/changes.htm
    "EMOTIONAL CHANGES DURING PUBERTY:
    Puberty is a time filled with changes. There are physical changes as a child's body begins to look
    and work like an adult's. There are also big emotional challenges in moving toward adulthood.
    These begin during puberty, the time of greatest physical change, and continue through late
    adolescence..."

http://www.chmc.org/aboutchi/infoline/changes.htm
    "EMOTIONAL CHANGES DURING PUBERTY:
    Puberty is a time filled with changes. There are physical changes as a child's body begins to look
    and work like an adult's. There are also big emotional challenges in moving toward adulthood.
    These begin during puberty, the time of greatest physical change, and continue through late
    adolescence..."

http://www.chmc.org/aboutchi/infoline/boys.htm
    "PHYSICAL CHANGES IN BOYS DURING PUBERTY:
    During puberty, a boy's body changes into a man's. It gets stronger and taller, with broad
    shoulders. The penis and testicles grow. Skin gets oilier, the voice gets deeper, and there's
    obvious hair in places that didn't have any before..."

http://www.chmc.org/aboutchi/infoline/teenstrs.htm
    "STRESS AND TEENS
    Stress is part of every life, but it can get intense during adolescence. One survey named stress
    and nervousness as the
    number one emotional problem felt by 14 to 21 year olds..."

http://www.sexualitydata.com/topics/puberty.html
    "Puberty is the period of physiological and anatomical development when the organs of sexual
    reproduction  mature and become functional. This is not to be confused with adolescence, which
    is a socially defined period of
    psychological development that is sociocultural. Puberty may or may not coincide..."

http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au/hp2106.htm#Communication
    "Communication:
    Keeping communication lines open with the adults who care for you can help to avoid a lot of
    problems. As you grow and change, your relationships with different members of your family will
    probably change too. To complicate
    matters, you may find that your mood swings from one extreme to the other. One minute you'll
    feel aggressive and full of confidence, then uncertain and unsure of yourself the next... "

http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au/hp2107.htm#Friends
    "Friends and Relationships:
    Maybe you feel shy and awkward with your own age group. Around 13 and 14, girls are usually
    taller than boys of their own age - boys catch up later. This can make you feel even more
    awkward..."

http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/n/x/nxd10/identity2.htm#sharum
    "The onset of puberty has been occurring earlier and earlier in the past century. This may be
    due to better health care and nutrition. Lowered self esteem had been discussed as an outcome
    of the early adolescent experience for years by researchers. Early maturing females, identified
    by menarche..."

http://www.webriver.com/daughters/00pubert.html
    "Q. My daughter's friends all seem to be menstruating, but my daughter is not. Should I be
        concerned?
    A. A girl's passage through puberty follows a predictable sequence of events, but the age when
        the process starts and the number of years it takes for completion vary by family and girl. In
        general, this is how it goes:..."

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References:
 
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