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Children hit puberty earlier

19th October 2006

05102006_teenagesmoking1.jpgA new report says that children are hitting puberty earlier.

The study, from Liverpool John Moores University Centre for Public Health, says the age at which puberty begins has come down over the last 150 years and consequently, children should be given advice on issues such as sex and alcohol much earlier.  The report, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, said social problems such as alcohol abuse, unprotected sex and self harm may be the result of children receiving information on these topics too late.

The report suggests that because children are developing physically, attempts should also be made to move them forward socially.  Dr Mark Bellis, the author of the report, said there was an increasing gap between physical puberty at age 12 and social puberty which, he argued can result in unprotected sex, substance abuse, self harm, violence and bullying.

The study suggests that children are ill-equipped to deal with the difficulties they face in life because information is being withheld from them until they are deemed ‘old-enough’ to hear it.  Dr Bellis said that children are now developing at an earlier stage and therefore need a different approach.

He said better nutrition and the reduction in child health diseases were "public health reasons" for the earlier development of puberty.  He added that the absence of a father in the parental home was also thought to cause early-onset puberty.

 

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