The World Cup-silly-season has arrived it seems and with it a ‘Lock up your daughters’ scare story.
We are going to hear more about early onset puberty and as parents it’s something that’s going to worry us all. I urge you to do your own research; speak to your doctor, look at trusted sources and ignore the headlines.
The Sunday Times published an article about Girls begin puberty at 9 today. Apparently, starts the article: Growing numbers of girls are reaching puberty before the age of 10, raising fears of increased sexual activity among a new generation of children.
So of course, we are all beset by fear; surely you could hear the outrage and mortification across the country as parents looked up from their Sunday Times newspaper this morning and whispered to each other ‘Will our year 6 children be at it behind the bikesheds and getting pregnant? Should we be giving them the ‘talk’ – the one about condoms and the morning after pill six years earlier than we imagined?’
Now here’s the odd bit, not one fact other than the year the research was carried out is available to us poor readers. Here it is…
‘The research was carried out in Denmark in 2006, the latest year for which figures were available, but experts believe the trend applies to Britain and other parts of Europe. Data from America also point to the earlier onset of puberty.’
Anders Juul, head of the Department of Growth and Reproduction at the University hospital in Copenhagen, a ‘world leader in the study of hormones and growth’ should think twice before trying to garner publicity for his institution. His research is particularly focused on young girls and according to his research, girls who experience early puberty will be riddled with diseases such as breast cancer and heart problems, obese due to junk food and lack of exercise, and prone to breast cancer and living at the mercy of environmental chemicals. It’s a widely known fact, and one I’ve checked with my GP, puberty happens once girls have reached a certain weight and that’s nature.
But we are at the mercy here of a supposed quality Sunday newspaper. It should put further context behind this story. The article also misleads the reader by stating that the standard age for ‘normal puberty’ ie starting periods is 12 years of age. A shocking manipulation of the facts to make the headline scream even louder. The onset of puberty does not begin with periods and is likely to happen between the ages of 8-10 years. So isn’t 9 years of age just average?
See where I’m going with this – it’s nonsense. And yet, the academics claim to know best by putting the frighteners on us. ‘Scientists warn that such young girls are ill-equipped to cope with sexual development when they are still at primary school.’
Ahem, excuse me but we have such a thing as sex education that starts from around the age of 8. There’s also loads of information widely available on the internet which has been created specifically for and with children. The NHS Boys and Girls Puberty Q&A and Puberty pages are awash with well presented facts.
The big news for me is that artificially produced chemicals have been blamed for interfering with sexual development, notably bisphenol A, a plastic found in the lining of tin cans and babies’ feeding bottles. BABIE’S FEEDING BOTTLES?
So aside from being poisoned by feeding bottles, there are other scary risks at play here according to Richard Stanhope, an expert in hormonal disorders in children who recently retired from Great Ormond Street.
“All the things we experience as teenagers are difficult enough to cope with, but when it happens at 10 or 11 it is much worse,” he said. “These children are also at a much higher risk of being sexually abused because it is hard for some adults to understand and behave appropriately towards them.”
“I had to wear a bra at 9,” said an anonymous girl “I used to pretend to be ill to get out of changing for PE. “The worst part was men coming on to me as though I was an adult when actually I was 11.”
This incredibly sinister quote from a young girl about how adults have ‘come on to her’ because they’re confused makes me very afraid that pubescent girls are now demonised before they’ve even left junior school.
But that’s not my point. Let’s roll back that last comment shall we? Adults who ‘come on’ to children are paedophiles.
I wonder if this girl was supported and told to report the adult to the police instead of speaking to a journalist. She needs to understand that none of this is her fault.